‘Is water the gold of the 21st century? Yes, said Fortune’ http://www.marketwatch.com/story/water-is-the-new-gold-a-big-commodity-bet-2012-07-24. With the world population growing 50% to over 10 billion over the next half century and coupled with potentially even greater growth in energy use the demand for water seems certain to rise by at least 50%. Food, water and energy use are intrinsically linked. That was the main message from Professor Kevin Noone at the February 2013 Guardian Sustainable Business (with SABMiller) Forum. Industry and energy production accounts for about 20% of global fresh water use. Water is vital for all forms of life and potable safe water is a fundamental requirement for human life.
While water covers over 70% of the earth’s surface over 96% is located in the sea with the balance divided evenly between groundwater and ice. Nearly 70% of water used by humans is attributed to agricultural activity.
Water moves through a continuous cycle of evaporation and transpiration, condensation, precipitation and run-off. The recent Intergovernmental Report on Climate Change (IPCC AR4) states:
‘The Intensity of precipitation events is projected to increase, particularly in tropical and high latitude areas that experience increases in mean precipitation. Even in areas where mean precipitation decreases (most subtropical and mid-latitude regions), precipitation intensity is projected to increase but there would be longer periods between rainfall events. There is a tendency for drying of the mid-continental areas during summer, indicating a greater risk of droughts in those regions. Precipitation extremes increase more than does the mean in most tropical and mid- and high-latitude areas.’
These projections have serious policy and management implications for countries, regions, companies, SMEs and individuals. Risks of water shortages, quality variation and floods look likely to rise.
What can we do to enhance water management, sustainability and efficiency?
● Identify water supply risks and integrate water risk management in to operations.
● Identify, measures to improve and manage water resources more efficiently. Prepare an effective and resilient water management strategy and plan.
● Help build capacity to enhance sustainable water policies and management of water use performance.
Our approach to water management:
To cope with the demand and supply pressures emerging ahead it’s clear that an efficient and effective market mechanism is required to create the incentives for storage, supply, innovation, improved practices, lower delivery costs and reduced risk. Policies that promote investment in storage and efficient distribution; investment in new cost reducing and purification technologies; improved work practices; and improved uses of water are likely to be rewarded. Collaboration, partnerships and engagement of multiple stakeholders are likely to generate early and positive results. While pricing is to play an important role in reflecting the true value of water so also is inclusive development and interventions to safeguard the vulnerable sector of communities. Effective communication with users is required.
Water management examples
● Number of life cycle assessment studies, covering agriculture, food and other manufacturing, transport, storage and water and energy use.
● Development of water management strategy for national development and corporate plans.
Interesting water management links: