Sara Scoville-Weaver Due Date: Monday, November 23, 2009 Geography 143 – Final Project Explanation: The goal
of my exhibit is to present the issues of water quantity and quality problems in developing countries around the world. As populations increase and climates change, the strain upon our water supply is felt more and more. Newly urbanizing cities are drastically increasing their consumption of water, and most of this growth is occurring in regions already classified as water scarce or vulnerable. I have always been intrigued by the fact that water is a finite resource, yet, most treat it as if the supply was inexhaustible. In America we turn on the faucet and are immediately presented with an endless abundance of clean, safe water. The idea that most of the world does not have this same luxury is not, in my opinion, highlighted as much as famines or food shortages. I chose to focus on this topic because I wanted to draw attention to the fact that a global water crisis is not only probable, but imminent. Over the summer I had the opportunity to travel to Morocco and study the effects that modern verses traditional methods of water extraction had upon the region. It was shocking for me to learn that in just the past few years the region’s rapid demand for water had resulted in drastically lowering underground water levels. The prevalence of diesel powered wells over traditional hand drawn ones has only mitigated this. Unusually long droughts in the region have increased the demand for irrigation of crops, and as Morocco’s population increases so does the demand both for agricultural and domestic consumption. Watching women wait in long lines for tankers bringing them their daily water allowance really hit home to me that the way in which water is being utilized today is wholly
unsustainable. Climate change will bring with it a myriad of other effects on the world water supply as well, such as glacial melting and increased drought. My experience in Morocco and my study of how climate change will affect the environment has given me a greater interest in the subject of water supply. To create my annotated bibliography I began by analyzing World Bank reports, as I have previously found them to have credible and detailed information on urban and health issues around the world. These documents gave me a good starting off point to begin my subsequent research. The bulk of my bibliographic materials are from the library, which has a huge section on water supply and management literature. I also used the search engines Aladin and Proquest to look up journal articles on the topic. These were most useful to me in that their endnotes gave me information on good websites and books to look up. I found that the most difficult part of this project was deciding how to focus and organize my information in the best possible way. My overall topic of “Water” is so general that I was not really sure of how to begin. I noticed that at the museum exhibit many of the panels began very simply to describe the issue and then became more in depth, so that is also what I attempted to do. My largest problem was in focusing my research to include everything that I wanted to, but still make the slides flow into one another. The issue is so multi-faceted that I thought using a case study of one city (New Delhi) and the problems seen there might lend more clarity to the project. I also knew that I wanted to include information on how water quality affects public health, and I had to force myself not to spend too much of my time on this aspect. My intention was to make sure that my panels gave a brief, yet comprehensive overview of
the entirety of the issue so that my audience could walk away with a decent foundation for future study. Organizing and focusing my research was very difficult for me and I know that I could have gone on for at least another ten slides. The Green Communities exhibit greatly helped as it gave me an idea of how to set up my project and information. I have never had an assignment like this one before, and even though I have been to dozens of museums I have never gone with the knowledge that I would have to create an exhibit myself. I now have a much greater appreciation for exhibit curators! Without analyzing the structure and content of the panels at the National Building Museum I would have had little idea as to how I should market my information to a general audience. My criticisms of the exhibit also helped me formulate my project. I found that most of the panels were saturated with information, graphics and quotes, to such a degree that I could not focus my attention properly. Thus, I knew that I wanted my own panels to provide information simply and cleanly, without a lot of extraneous detail. I hope that I have accomplished this. Without a doubt the Green Communities exhibit was necessary in providing me with a real-world example of how I should structure my project.
Briscoe, J. (2005). India’s Water Economy: Bracing for a Turbulent Future. The World Bank. Retrieved November 15, 2009 from, http://www.worldbank.org.in/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/SOUTHASIAEXT/INDIAEXTN/0,,contentMDK:206747 96~pagePK:141137~piPK:141127~theSitePK:295584,00.html. This report published by the World Bank was extremely beneficial for my presentation. The report drew from the findings of 12 different studies on the water situation in India. It analyzed the historical and environmental history of water utilization in the region before presenting evidence on current trends. The World Bank is a recognized, credible source for facts so I felt confident in using their findings in my exhibit. The report also had a section on future challenges that India will face, which was also very helpful for my project. Brooks, N. (2006). Imminent Water Crisis in India. The Arlington Institute. Retrieved November 19, 2009, from http://www.arlingtoninstitute.org/wbp/global-watercrisis/606#_ftn37. This journal article was very useful in providing a specific analysis of the many causes of and effects of India’s poor water quality and mismanagement. The piece gives many important statistics that I used to back up my presentations on India’s crumbling infrastructure and rising pollution levels. Details on how India would fare in light of future climate change predictions also are explained in detail in the article, which were useful for me in constructing my argument that if India’s unsustainable approach to water management is not addressed the country may soon be experiencing even more pronounced consequences. Grover, V. (2006). Water: Global Common and Global Problems. Enfield, NH. Science Publishers. This book provides a broad, yet in-depth look at the issue of water supply and management throughout the world. It was very useful for my topic as it addresses the issue from many angles. The author begins with a general background of the Earth’s
hydrological cycle and how humans have utilized and changed this. The multiple case studies provided on India, Hungary, and Brazil were also very helpful in providing me with concrete examples of how poor water quality and mismanagement effects societies. Although very scientific, the book centers on how important water is to public health and economic development, which is a key point in my project. This book was essential to me as it covered a wide range of topics within the issue, from sanitation to the how future climate change will affect the world’s water supply. Haberman, D. (2006). River of Love in an Age of Pollution: The Yamuna River of Northern India. London: University of California Press. This book was useful to me in my study of the Yumana River that runs through New Delhi. I wanted to use this river as a case study for how urban pollution and runoff directly affects local water bodies, and this book directly addressed this. The author describes the effects of New Delhi on the river in detail, providing both scientific analysis as well as personal reflections on the condition of the river. Lynas, M. (2008). Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet. Washington DC: The National Geographic Society. This publication by the National Geographic Society is an in-depth view of how our world will be affected by climate change, namely that of global temperature rise. The sections range in topic from sea level rise to desertification, and the book was useful in detailing exactly what the effects of temperature rise would be on water supply quantity and quality around the world. This was needed for my presentation as there are some many consequences of climate change upon the natural world, that would in turn affect every aspect of human civilization; water depletion being chief among them. Oxfam International. (2006). In the Public Interest: Health, Education, and Water and Sanitation for All. Oxford, UK: Oxfam International Secretariat. This publication was extremely beneficial for my project as it gave basic statistics and facts on quality of life around the world. It also provided many personal accounts and case studies of regions where water supply issues greatly hamper social and economic development. I used the information contained within to support my slide on how water issues negatively effect global health standards, specifically that of children. This book also addressed issues linked to government corruption and infrastructure mismanagement of water which was hard to find credible information for online.
Potter, R. (1990). Cities and Development in the Third World. London: Mansell Publishing. This book focused on how developing cities across the Third World are forced to deal with rapid increases in urbanization and population. The chapters most useful for me were those on the development of general services infrastructure and how growth centers in many cities are experiencing greater levels of political participation and involvement at the community level. The book is quite scientific and anthropological, so it was useful when examining the social issue inherent to resource management in cities. Ray, B. (2008). Water: The Looming Crisis in India. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. This book was useful in supplying information on the problems India is facing in its water sector and will be predicted to face. Since the main underlying theme of my project is that the global water crisis will worsen, this book was beneficial in also addressing this. The most pertinent sections for my project were the chapters on current supply statistics, future demand predictions, and the impact of impending climate change on water resources. There were also many sections dedicated to how India’s water policy negatively affected public health in the region, which is a secondary theme in my project. Villiers, M. (2000). Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource. New York City: Mariner Books. This book was interesting in that the author presents his information on water issues per region in a narrative format, akin to a novel. He imbeds statistics on water supply within anecdotal frameworks and the bulk of the book focuses on problems ranging from country to country. This was useful to me on my slide about the global demand for water as he breaks this down very specifically and addresses specific areas in great detail. The section on aquifers and their depletion was also very crucial for my project, as this is a major issue affecting the worldwide supply of water both in India and elsewhere. World Water Assessment Programme for Development, Capacity Building and the Environment. (2000). Retrieved November 21, 2009, from The United Nations Educational and Scientific Organization, from http://www.unesco.org/water/wwap/facts_figures/water_cities.shtml.
This UN document was a very good resource for me regarding socio-economic statistics and facts from around the world. This assessment was unique in that it combined population and urbanization information with findings on environmental degradation and water quality. This is a main theme in my project, so this report was very useful in this way. It also provided many detailed illustrations and tables which aided me in understanding my topic better. EXTRA CITATIONS – INCLUDES IMAGE CITATIONS Sengupta, S. (2006, September 29). Thirsty Giant: In Teeming India, Water Crisis Means Dry Pipes and Foul Sludge. The New York Times. Retrieved November 19, 2009, from http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/29/world/asia/29water.html?pagewanted= 1&_r=2. Figure 1: http://www.freshnews.in/water-supply-slashed-in-california-105040 Figure 2: http://www.railway-technology.com/projects/mumbai-metro/images/1-mumbai-metro.jpg. Figure 3: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/08/dumb_question.php. Figure 4 : http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2006/09/28/world/20060929_WATER_SLIDESHOW_1.html Figure 5 : http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2006/09/28/world/20060929_WATER_SLIDESHOW_1.html Figure 6 : http://www.livemint.com/2009/08/20213414/Water-and-sanitation-for-all.html. Figure 7 : http://monstrousappetite.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/0011.jpg Figure 8 : http://monstrousappetite.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/0011.jpg. Figure 9: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/gallery/2009/apr/28/glaciers-melting-climate-change?picture=346586108 Figure 10 : http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/200521817-001/Photographers-Choice.
Water Quantity and Quality Issues in Developing Societies By: Sara Scoville-Weaver
Our Most Precious Resource: The existence of water on Earth allows for the sustenance of all life forms; from the sponge to the elephant. Without this resource there simply would be no life. Although three-quarters of the Earth is covered in water, only three percent of that is fresh water. Of this amount only .6% is available surface water, with the remainder being frozen polar ice or deep underground (Water, 3). In today’s world of explosive growth and population booms, many people are finding it increasingly difficult to secure clean, predictable amounts of this supply. Overwhelming demand, aquifer depletion, neglected infrastructure and pollution are just a few causes of this critical problem in urbanizing societies. The effects of these issues on impacted populations can be devastating. Contaminated water supplies sicken and kill millions of people worldwide, mainly children (Water, 3). Increased underground tapping to escape this has resulted in rapid aquifer depletion, thus drying up future supplies. Impending climate change compounded with rising population levels will only mitigate these shortages. Earth’s water supply is not infinite. Without proper management of these issues, mankind may face a world characterized by increased conflict and poverty. This exhibit will first examine the issue of water supply and demand around the world and the effect of water scarcity and poor quality on public health. Urban water issues regarding trash, chemical affluence, and wastewater also greatly affect water quality. As a case study, New Delhi, India provides many clear examples of how rapidly developing cities are affecting local water resources. Lastly, the future of the global supply regarding predicted climate change patterns will be analyzed.
Water shortages and rationing are increasingly common in cities around the world (Fig 1).
Developing cities worldwide are experiencing rapid growth; Mumbai skyline (Fig 2).
The Impending Global Crisis In 2002 the United Nations committee on Economic, Social and Economic Rights officially declared that “Water is a limited natural resource and a public good fundamental for life and health. The human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity” (Water, 14). As the world supply of water is compromised the necessity for such a credo is vital. Today over one billion people live with little no access to potable water, with the number of “water scarce” countries predicted to reach 30 by 2025 (Water, 17.) As evident from Image 2, most of these vulnerable areas are characterized by arid climates, and are also home to a majority of the world’s population, i.e. India and Africa. The crisis will hit when global demand overpasses that of the available supply. Unfortunately, this is already occurring regionally. In Africa a whopping 1/3 of the population live under conditions of water scarcity. In China over 22% of the world’s population must be served by only 6% of the world’s available fresh water. Unfortunately, over 1/3 of the country’s wells in the Northwest region have already run dry (Villiers, 24). Rapid depletion of underground aquifers has drastically lowered water tables throughout the developing world. The increased use of diesel-powered wells to draw water along with mounting demand for crop irrigation is depleting these underground stores much faster than they can be naturally replenished (Villiers, 147). This situation will become increasingly widespread as the global population grows and urbanization trends continue as predicted.
The Global Breakdown of Water:
70% for agricultural use 20% for industrial use 10% for domestic use The demand for home consumption is expected to rise over 75% by 2025 as compared to 1995 levels. The demand for water for livestock purposes is also expected to increase to over 70% due to rising food demands in correlation with rising population levels (Water, 22).
The number of “water scarce” countries is rapidly on the rise. (Fig 3)
World Wide Demand for a Limited Resource
Current population trends reveal that the Earth is experiencing an unprecedented growth rate. Reports show that since 1800 the average size of the world’s 100 largest cities grew from about .2 million people to .7 million in 1900 and then to 6.2 million by 2000 (UN World). This is an astonishing population increase in an extremely short period of time. In correlation with this, urbanization trends have also grown exponentially. More people now reside in urban centers than in rural areas, which places extreme stress on local water resources due to high density concentrations. Furthermore, as urbanization has increased, so has the prevalence of slums. In 2000, more than 900 million urban dwellers resided in slums. This represents almost 1/3 of all urbanites (UN World). Such informal housing settlements have very little city water or sewage services. Consequentially, much urban water pollution derives from these areas, further compromising available supplies.
A large majority of today’s global population live in newly-developing regions and cities. (UN World).
Public Health Effects
Future increases in the global population will have many effects on the environment, and subsequently on human health. Increased consumption results in increased trash and waste production. Both industrial and human-made pollutants greatly affect water supplies. UN estimates from 2005 reveal that about 20% (1.1 billion) of the world’s population had little to no access to clean, safe drinking water and that 40% (2.6 billion) of the global population lacked access to basic sanitation and sewage services (Public). This situation creates an ideal breeding ground for water-borne diseases, such as typhoid and cholera. Although eradicated in most of the First World, these illnesses are common in many developing countries.
The Sad Facts: In urban areas of developing countries 1 child out of every 6 born will die before the age of 5 (UN World). Today, over 4,000 children will be killed by diarrhea from contaminated water (Public, 5). 1 in 3 people do not have access to a toilet or latrine (Public, 22). Over 200 million people are infected by schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease caused by defecation in water. Of this, 88 million are children (UN World).
A child in Africa fills up a water bottle from a contaminated water source. (Fig 4)
India: The Growing Crisis
Possessing one-third of the world’s poor and with the second largest urban population, India has long struggled to provide its population with basic water and sewage services (Public, 54). The city of New Delhi is home to many of the region’s urban poor who are forced to live in slums and informal housing settlements. Due to this, the city serves as an excellent case study of how rapid urbanization can affect local water supplies through overwhelming demand, aquifer depletion, and increases in pollutants. The current water management system in India is not adequate to meet the pressing needs of its people, and unless great changes are rapidly made, the situation will only worsen. The Basics: The availability of freshwater in India is a serious issue when its large population is taken into account. The country is home to over 16% of the global population, but has only 4% of the world’s available freshwater resources (Ray, xi.). This alarming statistic is compounded by the fact that the per capita availability of India’s freshwater has dropped lower and lower with every passing year. In 1951, freshwater levels were at 5,177 cubic meters. By 2001 this amount had decreased to 1,820 cubic meters (Ray, xi). Water management in India is largely to blame for this. Most freshwater rainfalls occur during the monsoon months, and reserves held for the majority of the year are rapidly used up with little long-term planning. This has created a situation in which the distribution of water is privatized, resulting in much hardship for Indian families who can not depend on predictable water supplies. This reality is a product of India’s infrastructural mismanagement, constant groundwater pumping and unregulated pollution.
Indian girls collecting daily water (Fig 5).
1. Crumbling Infrastructure Although the Indian government has made great strides in their country’s economic and industrial development sectors, domestic infrastructure conditions leave much to be desired. The chief water issue for most urban residents is not lack of availability, but of equitable distribution. The city of New Delhi demands 36 cubic meters of water each day, yet only an estimated 17 cubic meters actually reaches consumers. The rest, an incredible 40%, is actually “lost” through leaking and corroded pipes (Brooks, 2007). This is a classic example of the “Build-Neglect-Rebuild” issue facing many developing cities. Although miles of pipelines are in place and run throughout the city, the government does not appropriate the funds necessary for their maintenance. Many New Delhi residents have the infrastructure needed (i.e. running water taps) to access water, yet on average over ¼ of homes receive tap water for only 3 hours each day (Brooks, 2007). These affected residents must then depend upon allocation by tankers to receive their water. This situation creates much strife and conflict between households, as women wait long hours each day to fill up their jugs before the day’s water runs out. “I want to work, but I can’t,” she said glumly. “I go mad waiting for water.” – As told by Mrs. Krishnam, a New Delhi housewife concerning her lack of running water and dependence on private tankers (Sengupta, 2006).
Children playing in water leaking from a New Delhi pipeline (Fig 6).
2. The Draining of Groundwater
“We need to realize that self-provision of water is the best indicator of the failure of public water supply systems.” (Briscoe, 2005).
This graph shows levels of “unused” or available levels of ground and surface water. Regional water scarcity will soon be a major problem. (Briscoe, 2005). Groundwater is an essential part of India’s water supply. Historically the region has been blessed with a great abundance of this resource due to its proximity to the Himalayas, which provides annual snow melt runoff as well as monsoon season rainfalls. This helped recharge the aquifer system. However, increasing demand is quickly outstripping available reserves much faster than can be naturally restored. Currently, over 70% of irrigated land for agriculture and 80% of domestic needs are fulfilled through underground water extraction (Briscoe, 2005). In addition to industrial and agricultural demands, individual families have begun to drill private tube wells to supplement their personal water supply. This is due to the high level of pollution characteristic of surface water and the unreliability of municipal water access (Brooks, 2007). This is creating a situation in which India’s water tables are falling yearly at an unprecedented rate. If both surface and groundwater levels are compromised, India will surely face a critical water supply issue due to their unsustainable extraction of aquifer reserves.
3. Surface Water Pollution - “The River of Death”:
Considered to be divine by Hindu worshippers, the Yamuna River flows through the middle of New Delhi and is the principal water body of the city. New Delhi has grown faster than any other city in India, with the population increasing 50% every decade since India’s independence in 1947 (River, 2006). Although relatively clean before its entrance into New Delhi, the river is quickly saturated with the city’s urban runoff, where more than 950 million gallons of sewage are dumped in every day (Brooks, 2007). As domestic and agricultural demand for water increases, the river’s flow has diminished rapidly. What is left is thoroughly contaminated by seeping pesticides, chemical affluence, and human waste. In the worst areas methane gas is produced and actually bubbles on the river surface (River, 2006.) The Yamuna serves as an unfortunate example of how degraded a waterway can become in an urban setting. Tragically, millions of Indians continue to bathe in its toxic waters for religious and traditional purposes, further increasing the spread of water-borne diseases.
Untreated sewage regularly flows into the river. (Fig 7 and Fig 8)
Two children playing in the waters of the Yamuna
The Impact of Future Climate Change on the World’s Water Resources
Climate change has become the modern global crisis – that is, if the predictions become a reality. Scientists no longer contest that human’s impact on Earth’s environment through carbon dioxide and fossil fuel emissions emission will have a drastic affect on global temperature. Any change to the Earth’s climate will greatly impact water supplies around the world. Much of the available water supply is derived from glacial snow melt run off and rain fall. Thus, even seasonal alterations in this can prove disastrous for dependent communities. As glacial ice, for example in Nepal’s Himalayas, disappear their freshwater supply will cease to flow into downstream rivers and waterways which supply a fast majority of India’s population (Lynas, 2008). Increases in global temperature will also increase surface water evaporation, depleting lakes and other crucial water bodies which many in the developing world depend upon. Even five degrees of global warming will raise sea ocean levels, flooding many coastal zones. This will contaminate any much freshwater supply in the area. Drought will also become more commonplace, affecting the livelihoods of agriculture and livestock (Lynas, 2008). The effects of worldwide climate change upon water availability and supply will prove to be disastrous, as we are all dependent, rich and poor alike, on nature’s hydrological cycle for our survival.
Glacial retreat in the Himalayas from 1968 (top image) to 1997 (bottom image) (Fig 9).
Hope for the Future
Although the developing world faces a multitude of challenges in supplying water for its growing population, there still exists hope for future generations. As technology and the socio-economic condition of countries improve, greater investments in water supply infrastructure are expected to be made. The livability of cities is increasing on the whole, as advancements in education and political participation lend populations greater say in their communities. Studies reveal that although there is still much work to be done, as time has passed, governments around the world have invested more in providing general services, such as sanitation and running water, to their citizens. (Potter, 1990). The cause is not a lost one. There is still the chance for cities to both distribute their water equitably and extract it more sustainably. As knowledge of this issue grows, more and more people will demand changes to how societies use and affect the global water supply.
African women smile as they carry their valuable water home (Fig 10).