Population growth is the major cause of water scarcity. It doubled to 6 billion by the millennium and will reach a high of 7.9 billion in the year 2020, a 50% increase since the 1990’s. By 2050, the population is expected to increase to 9.3 billion people. Imagine what this would do to the supply and demand of water. As advancements in medicine continue, this will allow the older generations and baby boomers to live longer, and as more babies are born the demand for water will double.
Water pollution will result in a loss of 18,000 cubic kilometers by the year 2050, which is over 8 times the amount of water used for irrigation by current countries. “About 2 million tons of waste is dumped every day into rivers, lakes and streams, with one liter of waste water sufficient to pollute about 8 liters of fresh water. Today's report estimates that across the world there are about 12,000 cubic kilometers of waste water, which is more than the total amount contained in the world's 10 largest river basins at any given moment.” Most of this contamination comes from agricultural or chemical fields, human waste, and untreated sewage. As water pollution progresses, the consumption needs will not be met and people will be forced to use hazardous water and misuse the available water. Countries around the world are in dire need of special facilities and management plants that will reduce water pollutants.
Of the 3,830 cubic kilometers or 3.8 billion tons of freshwater that is used by humans, 70% of this water is used for the sole purpose of agriculture. “One kilogram of grain-fed beef needs at least 15 cubic meters of water, while a kilo of cereals needs only up to three meters.”
Urbanization and Industrialization
Besides the increasing number of people residing on this planet, urbanization is also increasing the demand for more water. Forty-eight percent of the human population lives in towns and cities. “In 1950, there were less than 100 cities with a population in excess of 1 million; by 2025, that number is expected to rise to 650. By the year 2000, some 23 cities -- 18 of them in the developing world -- will have populations exceeding 10 million. On a global scale, half of the world's people will live in urban areas.” As more people move from rural regions to urbanized cities the use of water will triple. Irrigation uses 70% of water, 20% is used by industrialization and 10% is for the needs of residents.
Climate change and variability will be responsible for a one-fifth of the rise in water scarcity. Climatologists say droughts are becoming a new norm in some parts of the America, especially in the South and West. These droughts bleed dry the lakes and cause vital reservoirs to decrease. Instead of droughts some places will experience an increase in rainfall. Although more rainwater can be seen as a benefit, the unpredictability of climate change will leave some areas with extreme dryness or humidity that could lead to catastrophic effects.
The inability to manage water demands has left people suffering the effects of water scarcity. Irrigation farmers and industries run under the belief that there is a vast amount of water, when it is actually really scarce. Some countries like Africa are unable to properly distribute water amongst their residents. Along with management problems there are also institutional and financial issues. A few countries don’t realize how the available water in their states can be properly managed. Financial and fund shortages limit the chances of improving the current water systems.
Ground Water Exploitation
The exploitation of groundwater has led the Central Ground Water Authority to make sure that the government takes serious measures to deal with yet another cause for the lack of water. As water becomes more scarce, governments have to rely on groundwater, which leads to exploitation and even more problems.