Trend: The supply of clean, fresh water is shrinking as the demand for that water is increasing.
The Oil Drum describes why the availability of clean, fresh water supply is threatened. Excerpts below.
Australia's recent bout of intense drought has had an impact on global agricultural production and subsequently on a number of global commodity prices - rice being the most recent example. The United States has also started to experience issues with water supplies in both the southeast and southwest.
Access to fresh, clean water has increasingly become an issue worldwide in recent years, as a number of factors come into play affecting both supply and demand:
- Population is increasing - and most rapidly in drier regions
- People have become wealthier and accustomed to using more water
- Polluted water has become more common, as large swathes of the developing world industrialise
- Ever increasing demand for power (and newer forms of energy like biofuels or coal to liquids plants)
- Groundwater aquifers have been depleted by irrigation for agriculture
- The water industry is mostly made up of public utilities that have often been starved of new investment funds
- Climate change has impacted rain patterns, reducing rainfall levels and increasing the frequency and intensity of droughts
- Melting glaciers have reduced water flows
- Water has been cheap, so there is little incentive to conserve it