Water demand management critical to future water use


Geneva, Switzerland and London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — June 14, 2010 – Reducing water supply and better demand management will be critical to manage water supply in the future, according to a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.K. Department for International Development (DFID).

The report, “Vision 2030,” which is concerned with the resilience of water and sanitation in the face of climate change, says that piped water supply, received by the majority of the world’s population, will be most broadly resilient to climate change. However, while utility water supplies have high potential resilience, for many actual resilience remains to be achieved, and becoming climate resilient means addressing utility operational performance.

Critical will be to reduce leakage, in particular in areas of declining water availability, both for water economy and to reduce contamination. In addition this will contribute to reducing the energy needs and carbon footprint of water supply itself.

Increasing storage capacity, for example through surface water dams and artificial groundwater recharge, may contribute to resilience. However, over-exploiting groundwater resources in response to scarcity driven by climate change will undermine sustainability.

Two key areas have been identified where climate changes may present the most significant problems in the medium term. These are in environments where rainfall is expected to decline, including southern Africa, North Africa, Central America and northeastern South America, and the eastern Mediterranean; and environments that may experience more flooding, including South Asia, parts of east Asia, and parts of central and east Africa. In addition to these areas, coastal areas around the world are likely to face problems as these have high populations – a quarter of the world’s population in total – often limited water resources, and are vulnerable to saline intrusion.

The report also notes important gaps in our knowledge that already or soon will impede effective action. These include basic information on, for example, understanding the water resource base, and on water demand from household-level access to drinking-water.