urban water security

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The recent news on the water crisis in cities like Cape Town in South Africa and Bangalore in India are clear examples of how urban cities across the globe are suffering from the need for the precious resource the water. It is reported that by 2030, 5 billion people will be living in urban areas spread across hundreds of cities. As reported in UN, the freshwater withdrawals have tripled over the last 50 years. Demand for freshwater is increasing by 64 billion cubic meters a year (1 cubic meter = 1,000 litres).

With most of the cities in the red alert zone on water demand, the inability of the population to get water will be on the rise. The issue of water supply in both quality and quantity will have a greater impact on the livelihoods and can change the socio-economic development in a region.

Urban cities would have to spend more for water supply
With depleting groundwater resources and climate change impacting water stability. The water supply to urban houses will become expensive in the near future if actions are not taken holistically. The issue will rise due to the transportation of water from long distances which will incur a huge amount of cost for fuel and chemical process for treating the water. Further, water is a serious political issue in most part of the world. Importing water from one region to another will create social and political tensions.

The solution for the future is to ensure water security through demand management
Demand management is the best way to solve the urban water crisis. The ability of the population to safeguard the current water resource and better use of the existing water supplies becomes critical. The demand water supply or management brings in cultural and management practices together. Water conservation, water recycling, adopting best practices and people’s attitude towards water use or focused upon in demand water management.

Now let’s see two successful case study of demand water management implemented in two different cities –

Case 1: Vancouver
In the summer months, the price of water in the city Vancouver increases by 25%. The increase in price will be due to the cost incurred by the Government to supply water from other places. The city addressed this issue by enforcing summer surcharge with a goal of reducing water consumption by 33%. This practice ensured the city residents reduced their pressure on the current water system and removing the need for getting water from elsewhere.

Case 2: Western Australia’s Water Efficiency Program
In Western Australia, the law mandates all business using more than 20,000 KL of water per annum to complete a Water Efficiency Management Plan. The plan enforces business to set actions and targets towards reducing water usage and tracks the progress. The water history, the water saving opportunities, water action plan and management of the same is recorded and reviewed.

The demand water management can be successful only if two parallel systems work in synchronization. The behavioral aspect of people and the regulatory enforcement.

Image Source: Matzuda

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