To solve the problem of water scarcity we need to save water, which every person on Earth can do. To achieve this, it is necessary to reduce the amount of its consumption in industry, agriculture, households, avoid leakage, not pollute and rationally use water resources.
The second way is to form more and larger reservoirs with fresh water. Experts such as Qian Dang, Xiaowen Lin, and Megan Konar recommend improving the technology of water treatment and catchment. While a surface reservoir can safely be filled and emptied without damage, that is not true of underground reservoirs, aquifers, which cannot be raised and lowered so easily. In some regions it may be economically and technologically feasible to process salt water into fresh water, another promising way to solve the water deficit problem. It is essential to use other sources of the hydrosphere - to use glaciers and to increase the number of resources used and the amount of each harvested (Gayfer, 2008). If developed nations continue to work to develop water technology, then shortly it should be possible to solve the problem of the freshwater deficit.
Furthermore, it is necessary to change the methods of water consumption. In agriculture, for example, use drip irrigation. Practical use of water resources contributes to a sharp increase in the competitiveness of the economy. A system of practical water use can be built at a regional level (when a river or lake is perceived as a single object), and at the national level (International Atomic Energy Agency, 2011). In this connection, it would be logical to assume that the states such as Colorado that are located upstream should not only not seek to build regional regimes for managing international water resources, but also resist this, to prevent the increase in the influence of their downstream neighbors. However, this go-it-alone strategy has relatively clear limits and needs to be balanced against the loss of the benefits of regional cooperation.
Alternatives that the downstream state can offer in exchange for a mutually beneficial regional water use system are multiplying as the world market becomes more dynamic and multi-agent (International Atomic Energy Agency, 2011). In this regard, the value of such benefits as the creation of free-trade zones, facilitated access to the national labor and capital markets, access to innovative technologies for practical water use and hydro-power facilities is continually growing (International Atomic Energy Agency, 2011).
Gleick and Iceland (2018) noted that increasing populations and industrialization along with predicted climate changes threaten freshwater supplies. Water insecurity is “much more likely if governance is weak, infrastructure is inadequate, and institutions are fragile.”
Gleick and Iceland list some risk-reducing options:
• putting caps on water usage;
• improving irrigation practices and technology (irrigation being
70% of water withdrawals worldwide);
• planting water-conserving crops;
• “introducing social safety net programs;”
• reducing food loss and waste;
• slowing population growth;
• establishing urban water conservation programs;
• improving water treatment and conservation;
• negotiating watershed agreements;
• updating water information systems;
• investing in water reuse and in water capture by dams, dikes, and levees;
• protecting the forests and wetlands, and • strengthening the relevant governance bodies.
They classify the threats as
• diminished water supply or quality • increased water demand
• extreme flood events.
They write that analysts are emphasizing now that conflicts arise not only due to political differences, but also to economic, demographic, and social factors somewhat affected by resource constraints.
Anderson and Libecap (2014) favor greater use of property rights and market mechanisms in determining the ownership and usage of water resources. Property rights are ownership of an asset that, with the owner paying the costs and obtaining the benefits, avoid the problem of the “tragedy of the commons.” “There is no simple analysis, however, that can tell us whether markets are better than regulation or vice versa. The answer depends on the relative costs and benefits of alternative institutions.”
Award-winning economist, the late Elinor Ostrom (2014) studied in detail the common-pool-resource (CPR) governance issues described in her Governing the Commons. Ostrom proposes another model, one in which the participants can regulate themselves with binding laws/contracts, established unanimously. The players have an incentive to monitor each other and a referee to enforce penalties. She gives as an example the successful use of agreed-upon daily rotation through a set of fishing locations in Turkey, with monitoring (and enforcement) handled by the fishermen themselves. Factors internal to the group involved or external to it may make some arrangements feasible and others not. She lists the difficulties faced by “centralizers” and “privatizers” that make any sweeping generalization likely to be wrong. “Policies based on metaphors can be harmful” she concludes. One might say, “the devil is in the details.” As with other complex issues, further study is desirable.
Focusing on the Colorado River is the in-depth study, “The Colorado River and the Inevitability of Institutional Change,” the extensive and definitive work (Kenney et al., 2011) of a team of scholars (Douglas Kenney, Sara Bates, Anne Bensard, and John Berggren). Noting that the Colorado River is one of the most thoroughly studied natural resources in the world, the authors comment, “By almost any standard, it is the jewel of the American Southwest–and it is in trouble.” Its many major contributions to the region are threatened by predicted increases in the demand for its waters, while its flow is likely to decrease. The fundamental problems are: a complex set of legal arrangements for its use, a projected shortfall between the allowed allocations and the expected flow in the future, and the legal ambiguities involved in settling claims to the flow.
Five issues are highlighted by Kenney et al. (2011):
• The Upper Basin Delivery Obligation
• The Interbasin Apportionment
• Deliveries to Mexico
• Administration of Compact Calls
• Compact Rescission or Reformation
Much of the latter part of the document involves describing the opinions of many of the leaders of the Colorado River Basin. In sum,
• they recognized the need for change due to increased risk of shortages;
• they preferred conflict resolution to litigation;
• they desired more diverse input into resolving the issues.
Options favored included:
• getting more public involvement in the issues,
• obtaining more agreement on the ways to handle a variety of river-flow scenarios,
• studying the current and future use of the river water,
• harnessing the political modalities to regulate the relationships between the Upper and Lower Basins and among the states involved.
An extensive analysis and evaluation of options for assuring adequate water supplies in the Colorado River Basin was published in 2012 by the Bureau of Reclamation. Four water-supply scenarios and six water-demand scenarios were studied to try to predict the future needs. Comparing the medians from the supply and demand scenarios, the likely imbalance by 2060 is 3.2 maf [million acre-feet volume of water], with a wide range of uncertainty. Some of this can be met with reservoir storage to smooth out variability. By 2010, the ten-year running average of demand had already exceeded the ten-year running average of supply, and the trends were for this difference to increase. Over 20,000 computer simulations were run to study the impact of the various options considered. Figure 4 of the report shows the various options and their cost estimates and the percentage of the 2010-2060 years in which the system is vulnerable. There are wide ranges of vulnerabilities, and the costs vary as well, but are limited to about $2 billion to $7 billion per year. The report does not choose the best option, leaving that to others.
Western Resource Advocates put forth the following proposals in 2014 [https://westernresourceadvocates.org/publications/the-hardest-working-river-in-the-west-colorado-river-basin/] “The Hardest Working River in the West: Common-Sense Solutions for a Reliable Water Future for the Colorado River Basin” identifies five innovative solutions that could eliminate Western water shortages stemming from the over-taxed and stressed Colorado River and meet the water needs of the West’s business, agricultural and growing population through 2060.
The facts are clear: the demand for water from the Colorado River exceeds the supply. By 2060, we can expect a 3.8-million-acre-foot deficit in river supply. Coming up short could put 36 million people’s drinking water, agriculture, future economic growth, the $26.4 billion outdoor recreational economy, and a quarter-million jobs in jeopardy. In addition, the river’s imbalance is wreaking havoc on the West’s natural ecosystems, harming world-class fisheries and unique natural wonders. In addition to identifying the challenges, the report details five affordable solutions to ensure a reliable water future, improve the health of the Colorado River, grow the economies of the seven Basin states, and protect essential Western natural habitats:
• Municipal conservation, saving 1 million acre-feet through improved landscaping techniques, rebate programs that incentivize water-saving devices, installing new appliances and fixtures, and standardized, routine water audits across municipalities.
• Municipal reuse, saving 1.2 million acre-feet—Wastewater and gray water can be treated for potable use, and reused for irrigation, industrial processing and cooling, dust control, artificial lakes and replenishing groundwater supply. Rainwater harvesting using innovative new technologies is a simple additional step.
• Agricultural efficiency and water banking, saving 1 million acre-feet— Agriculture is the river’s largest water use, extending across 5.7 million acres of arid Western land and consuming more than 70% of the river’s water. Voluntary improved irrigation efficiency, regulated irrigation, rotational fallowing, crop shifting, and innovative irrigation technologies are already being used by farmers. In addition, water banking is a marketbased approach that allows farmers (and others) to bank their unused water voluntarily.
• Clean, water-efficient energy supplies, saving 160 thousand acre-feet—To reduce the need for water to cool thermoelectric power plants, Colorado River Basin states can continue to pursue energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy like wind, solar photovoltaics, and geothermal, which require little or no water.
• Innovative water opportunities, generating up to 1 million acre-feet— Inland desalination in certain areas with brackish groundwater and surface water is a viable option to stretch water supplies, potentially generating 620,000 acre-feet of water. In addition, dust-on-snow management can help save a minimum of 400,000 acre-feet of water while removing dense invasive plants in upland areas will save a minimum of 30,000 acre-feet of water.
In the end, we can say that almost all the solutions to the problem of providing drinking water in the future are in the hands of man. Nature gives us practically inexhaustible sources of life; from all of us, from each of us, only one thing is required - to preserve what nature is providing.
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