To maintain its economic growth and provide for its massive population, China must reconcile two powerful, converging trends: energy demand and resource scarcity. One prime example of this tension is the country’s coal use and water supply.
New reports and articles are increasingly pointing to water risk as one of the biggest issues associated with climate change, energy production, food security, and human health.
Measuring, mapping and understanding water risks around the globe.
The Gulf of Mexico has the largest dead zone in the United States and the second-largest in the world. Dead zones form when excessive amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous wash into waterways and spur algal blooms, depleting the water of oxygen and killing fish, shrimp, and other marine life. The Gulf of Mexico dead zone can range between an astounding 3,000 and 8,000 square miles. At its largest, it’s about the size of Massachusetts.
We know less about one of world's most pressing challenges today than we did 10 years ago. It's no secret that water - or the lack thereof - will be one of the defining issues of the 21st century. And yet, the United Nations World Water Report, in 2009, stated that when it comes to water, "less is known with each passing decade."
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the first World Water Day, an international celebration designed to draw attention to the importance of freshwater resources. However, for a large and growing proportion of the world’s population, every day is a World Water Day. Difficult, complex water challenges including drought, groundwater depletion, pollution, and clean drinking water availability are growing in urgency and seriousness all around the world. Some even argue that we should boycott World Water Day – that our water problems are too serious to try and confine to a single day.
In January, Brian Richter, director of freshwater strategies at The Nature Conservancy, spelled out four water resolutions through a thought-provoking series of blog posts. One of those resolutions was to better understand and communicate the differences between water use and water consumption. This is a particularly important issue, as there has been a lot of discussion lately about water scarcity, water stress, and the risks associated with them.
Prior to the creation of the global Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, indicators were developed and tested in a number of river basins worldwide. The results of the Yellow River Basin Study helped inform and shape the global Aqueduct Water Risk Framework.
The Yangtze River Basin (YZB) Study provides details of the data, sources, methodology, and maps for 14 water-related indicators across the Yangtze River Basin in China. The YZB Study is primarily designed for research organizations for analysis and research purposes.
The Orange-Senqu River Basin (ORB) Study provides details of the data, sources, methodology, and maps for 14 water-related indicators across the Orange-Senqu River Basin in Southern Africa. The ORB Study is primarily designed for research organizations for analysis and research purposes.
The Colorado River Basin (CRB) Study provides details of the data, sources, methodology, and maps for 12 water-related indicators across the Colorado River Basin in the United States and Mexico. The CRB Study is primarily designed for research organizations for analysis and research purposes.
Water is a scarce resource in India, especially in the state of Maharashtra, where most rainfall is limited to the monsoon season from June through September. The Government of India has long promoted a Participatory Watershed Development (PWD) approach to deal with this scarcity.
Prior to the creation of the global Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, indicators were developed and tested in a number of river basins worldwide. The results of the Mekong River Basin Study helped inform and shape the global Aqueduct Water Risk Framework.
Water supply and availability could be the most pressing problem restricting China’s economic growth in the next 10-15 years, according to a new report by the Asian Development Bank. Not only are water resources limited (only about 30 percent of total water resources are available for use), but many surface and groundwater sources are suffering from severe pollution.[^1] The Chinese government is now looking to invest in new ideas to improve water quality and supply, and WRI is using its water quality trading expertise to explore the potential of market-based methods to improve water quality and increase the supply of clean water from Chao Lake, the fifth-largest lake in China.
- In the Neuse River Basin in North Carolina, WRI is working with partners to identify beneficiaries and their water-related dependencies. We learned that clear documentation of the risks that beneficiaries face from water pollution, drought, and watershed
Forested watersheds of the southern United States provide numerous services to the region. At no cost, they purify water, control flooding and erosion, and provide places for people to relax and have fun. Yet despite their value, many watersheds are under threat from development and poor land management.
Using markets to protect and restore ecosystems – and the many services they provide – is gradually becoming a reality. Market-based systems have already protected hundreds of thousands of acres of land while still meeting human economic and development needs. They can help ensure that environmental benefits, from wildlife habitat to water purification, will be preserved for future generations.
2011 will be an important year for the Chesapeake Bay, not only because scientists are predicting an unusually bad “dead zone” this summer.
In August of 2010, the Indian electricity company Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd (SJVN) lost its source of power in Himachal Pradesh. Deforestation and river alterations upstream of the company’s dam had aggravated erosion in the area. Without the trees, heavy rains washed an unprecedented amount of sediment straight into the water, lowering dam reservoir capacity and power output. The resulting 22 days of closure for the facility left millions of people without power and cost the company upwards of $42 million, or INR. 198 Crore.