Water pollution, overuse of water, increased demand for water, climate changes, mismanagement of water resources, and poverty cause a lack of clean water.
When you have regular access to fresh water, you may not consider water scarcity a problem, so you may take it for granted, but sadly not everyone has the same privilege.
In some parts of the world, people, especially women and children, have to walk miles to get access to water. Sometimes, the water may not even be clean enough for drinking and cooking.
Meanwhile, the water crisis is beginning to spread and is more significant than you might realize. According to a 2013 report by the Global Water Institute, 700 million people worldwide could be displaced by intense water scarcity by 2025.
In addition, many American households are currently facing a major water crisis as they cannot afford the water utility bills.
Water Scarcity is used to describe the reduction in the availability of freshwater when needed. It is when the lack of clean water resources fail to meet the standard water demand. It occurs due to a physical shortage of water or lack of proper water supply caused by economic factors. There are also individual human habits that often contribute to a lack of clean water access.
In this article, we highlight some of the factors that lead to the scarcity of freshwater. You will also learn more about how to improve your water use. Read on!
1. Water pollution
One of the significant causes of water shortage is water pollution. It refers to the contamination of water by substances that makes it unsafe for human use. Many contaminants such as toxic waste, petroleum, and microorganisms can corrupt the body of water due to human activities. It can also permanently damage the available water resources.
Generally, industrial waste is one of the most significant contributors to water pollution. In oil drilling operations, there are usually accidental spills or leaks of oil into the water.
Many sea animals have become extinct as a result of contaminated ocean water. It has also caused the degradation of some water resources.
In addition, fecal waste is a common source of water pollution. Many rural areas lack proper sanitation and waste management systems. So the waste often ends up in rivers, streams, or any flowing water, which pollutes the water.
You can also cause water pollution in your regular daily routine. While washing machines help to make doing laundry easier, they also have negative impacts on the environment. The wastewater contains microfibers and volatile organic substances that pollute water bodies.
Through water treatment, you can clean polluted water to make it fit for use. However, it is quite expensive. But you can avoid activities that lead to water pollution, like littering water bodies with refuse, excrement, or anything that can contaminate water.
2. Overuse of water
When you have regular and constant access to clean water, there is a tendency to overuse it. Unsustainable water use can lead to clean water scarcity, especially when we can’t replenish the water resources. It can also cause famine and harm the aquatic ecosystem.
Besides commercial usage, water waste is prevalent in many households, and you might not even be aware of it. Whether cleaning, bathing, cooking, swimming, we use water for almost every activity.
Most bathrooms are unsustainable, which often results in excess use of water. For instance, many older models of toilets can use up to 6 gallons of water per flush.
Meanwhile, you only need about 1.6 gallons of water for a single flush. So most of the water used to flush will only waste. You can get a water-efficient toilet to save more water.
You can also misuse water by taking too long showers. While you can reduce your shower duration, you can also opt for a water-conserving showerhead. You can also practice brushing your teeth without running the tap to save water.
It is important to keep in mind that you're limiting another person's access to water when you overuse water. So you need to ensure that you make efforts to conserve water resources.
3. Increased demand for clean water
With more agricultural, commercial, and domestic water use, the available water is not enough. As a result of the growing wealth and population rates, there is an increased demand for water. However, the world’s freshwater sources are depleting and can’t meet this demand.
Many people do not realize that water supply is limited. Out of all the water on earth, 97% is made of salt water, and only 3% is fresh water that humans can consume. And even 99% of the freshwater is hidden in glaciers, ice sheets, and aquifers. So that means that only 1% of the earth's fresh water is accessible.
However, the problem is not that there is not enough water; it is because the water resources aren’t properly managed. So as the water demand is increasing, the supply of water is not sufficient to meet this need. This has created a water crisis that is fast spreading due to the scarcity of water resources.
4. Climate change
Climate change is a major global issue caused by the burning of fossil fuels during many human activities. Deforestation and increasing livestock farming, amongst other factors, have led to long-term global temperature changes. Climate change also contributes to water scarcity and affects the earth's water resources.
One of the main effects of climate change is that it affects rainfall patterns. It disrupts weather patterns causing extreme weather issues like drought, floods, and heavy rains. These climate changes affect water access for a lot of households.
Many people do not get enough water access to meet their daily needs. According to a UNICEF Report, around 450 million children live in areas with high water vulnerability.
Natural disasters also contaminate and destroy the water supply creating an increase in diseases like cholera and typhoid. Lack of clean water also affects agriculture and can cause famine.
However, you can join the action against climate change to save the environment. You can reduce your carbon footprints with a sustainable lifestyle. You can also swap your tools for energy-efficient and water-conserving systems.
5. Mismanagement of water infrastructures
Only less than 1% of the earth's fresh water is accessible for human use. It may sound minor, but this percentage is actually sufficient to cover all the various water demands. However, due to the mismanagement of water resources, the world is facing a massive water crisis.
With urban growth, we have been able to develop modern and efficient water infrastructure. These infrastructures help to promote effective treatment and distribution of water. For instance, underground pipelines help to move water from one location to another.
However, not all areas have access to these infrastructures, which also causes water scarcity. Then, the improper use of these infrastructures also contributes to water scarcity. We need to be responsible for our water infrastructures since it'll help conserve our available clean water.
6. Economic scarcity
In some parts of the world, especially in Africa, there is economic scarcity and the population’s inability to utilize adequate water sources.
In 2006, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimated that 300 million out of 500 million people that live in Africa live in a water-scarce environment. These people lack simple infrastructures to collect and store water due to limited industrial development and widespread poverty.