Summary 1. Approximately 0.024% of the earth’s water supply is available as liquid freshwater. Management of the world’s water supply is a huge 21 st century challenge. 2. Freshwater shortages are caused by dry climate, droughts, desiccation, and water stress. Solutions for this problem include building dams and reservoirs, transporting freshwater between locations, withdrawing groundwater, and desalination. 3. Advantages of dams and reservoirs include cheap electricity, reduction of downstream flooding, and year-round water for irrigation. Disadvantages include displacement of people and disruption of aquatic systems, and the hydrological cycle. 4. Transferring large amounts of water from one area to another can give stream runoff from water- rich areas to water-poor areas and aid in irrigation of farmland. It can also cause ecological, economical, and health disasters. 5. The advantages of withdrawing groundwater include water for drinking and irrigation; availability and locality; low cost, no evaporation losses; and it is renewable. Disadvantages include aquifer depletion from over pumping, subsidence, pollution, saltwater intrusion, and reduced water flow. Desalination increases the supply of fresh water but is expensive and produces large quantities of wastewater. 6. We can waste less water by lining canals, leveling fields, irrigating at night or using new irrigation techniques, polyculture or organic farming, seasonal farming, irrigating with treated waste water, and importing water-intensive crops and meat. 7. Flooding is caused by heavy rain or melting of snow within a short time. To reduce flood damage or the risk of flooding we can avoid building on floodplains, removing water-absorbing vegetation, or draining wetlands. 8. Methods for achieving more sustainable use of the earth’s water include not depleting aquifers, preserving aquatic systems and water quality, integrated watershed management, agreements among regions and countries sharing surface water resources, outside party mediation of water dispute nations, marketing of water rights, raising water prices, wasting less water, decreasing government subsidies for reducing water waste, and slowing population growth.
- Fall '13
- organic farming, 0.024%