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Boosting Water Productivity. Sandra Postel and Amy Vickers. State of the World 2004. Boosting Water Productivity. Overview:. A New Mindset for Managing Water Water-Rich, Water-Poor Water, Crops, and Diets Cities and Homes Industrial Water Use and Material Goods Consumption

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Boosting Water Productivity

Sandra Postel and Amy Vickers

State of the World 2004


Boosting Water Productivity

Overview:

  • A New Mindset for Managing Water

  • Water-Rich, Water-Poor

  • Water, Crops, and Diets

  • Cities and Homes

  • Industrial Water Use and Material Goods Consumption

  • Policy Priorities


Freshwater Ecosystems

  • Rivers, lakes, wetlands, and underground aquifers

  • They store, move, and cleanse water as it cycles between sea, air, and land

  • Healthy ecosystems need

    • - Minimum quality and quantity of water

    • - Natural flow pattern


World Water Use

Industry (22%)

Agriculture (70%)

Towns and Municipalities (8%)

Source: World Bank, World Development Indicators, 2001


Human Influences on Freshwater Ecosystems

  • Water tables are falling from overpumping of groundwater

  • Many streams and rivers run dry for portions of the year

  • Large inland lakes are shrinking

  • World’s freshwater wetlands have diminished in area by half


Current Water Use Patterns Are Unsustainable

  • Impacts accelerate with increases in population and consumption

  • Large-scale water development projects (i.e., dams, reservoirs, diversion projects) have social and ecological costs:

    • - Ecosystems destroyed

    • - Fisheries decimated

    • - Aquatic species imperiled

    • - People displaced from

    • their homes


1. A New Mindset for Managing Water

  • Freshwater is a life support system for ecosystems

  • Must allocate sufficient water throughout the year to protect valuable ecosystem functions

  • Can use remaining water to satisfy human demands efficiently, equitably, and productively


2.8

Egypt

3.6

India

8.5

China

12.3

Russian Federation

18.0

United States

20.3

Brazil

21.3

Australia

40.2

Germany

GDP per cubic meter of water use (2000 dollars)

Source: FAO, USGS, OECD

Water Productivity of Selected Countries

Water Productivity: Value of economic goods and services per cubic meter of water extracted from the natural environment


2. Water-Rich, Water-Poor

  • Uneven distribution of water on a global scale

    • - 6 countries (Brazil, Russia, Canada, Indonesia, China, and Colombia) account for half of Earth’s freshwater supply


Ethiopia production requires

42

348

Brazil

527

Russian Federation

640

India

1011

Egypt

1932

United States

Estimated Annual Water Withdrawals Per Capita, Selected Countries (2000)

Cubic Meters Per Person Per Year

Source: FAO, USGS


Ethiopia production requires : 84% of the Nile’s flow originates within its territory, but faces famine due to drought

Phoenix, Arizona: Desert climate, but imports water from Colorado River

Affluence and Poverty

  • Influence of power, politics, and money can override natural abundance or scarcity of water


Populations Lacking Access to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation (2000)

No Safe Drinking Water

No Adequate Sanitation

Region

Africa

36%

40%

Asia

19%

53%

Latin America & Caribbean

13%

22%

Source: World Health Organization

1 out of 5 people in developing world

(1.1 billion people) face risk of disease and death due to lack of access to safe drinking water


Meeting Basic Needs Sanitation (2000)

  • Urgent task: to provide all people with minimum amount of clean water needed for good health and sanitation

  • More than enough water to accommodate everyone’s basic needs but political will and financial commitment lacking

  • When private corporations manage water systems, cost-recovery can take priority over meeting basic needs


3. Water, Crops, and Diets Sanitation (2000)

Must raise productivity of agricultural water use to meet growing food needs as water stress deepens and spreads

  • Three Challenges:

  • Delivering and applying water to crops more efficiently

  • Increasing yields per liter of water consumed

  • Shifting diets to satisfy nutritional needs with less water


Water, Crops, and Diets Sanitation (2000)

  • Surface water irrigation efficiency is typically poor (can be as low as 25-40%)

  • Losses due to leaks, seepage, evaporation


Micro-irrigation methods Sanitation (2000)

  • drip and micro-sprinklers reduce volume of water applied to fields by 30-70% and increase crop yields by 20-90%

Changes in cropping patterns and growing methods

  • using high-yielding and early- maturing crop varieties

  • deficit irrigation: only watering plants during critical growth stages

Improving Irrigation Efficiency


Affordable technologies for small plots Sanitation (2000)

  • ex.: treadle pumps: human powered devices that give access to shallow groundwater

Collecting and storing rainfall

  • using ponds, check dams, and other structures to irrigate crops during dry season, recharge groundwater

Improving Irrigation Efficiency


4902 Sanitation (2000)

Water consumed to supply 10g of protein

Water consumed to supply 500 calories

251

1000

204

rice

beef

Dietary Choices

4902

Liters of Water

1515

421

251

1000

219

89

303

67

132

135

204

potatoes

beans

wheat

rice

poultry

beef

Based on California crop yields and water productivity. Source: Renault and Wallender (2000)


Dietary Choices

  • Average U.S. diet, high in meat content, requires twice as much water as an equally nutritious vegetarian diet


4. Cities and Homes reduce:

  • Waste is a major urban water management problem

  • In many cities, water losses are 15% - 40%, some higher

  • Unaccounted-for Water (UFW): volume of water withdrawn from nature but that never reaches an end-user, due to

    • - Leaky pipes and mains

    • - Theft

    • - Meter inaccuracies


  • - reduce:Rivers run dry

  • Habitats wither

  • Wildlife disappears

Problems with Urban Water Losses

  • Surrounding regions experience water stress: withdrawals outstripping available supplies

  • When surplus water is extracted

  • More energy required to pump, treat, and distribute excess water

  • This “lost” water, if recovered, could help cities facing scarcity meet their water needs


Household Water Use, Selected Cities and Countries reduce:

47

149

218

255

281

832

Liters Per Capita Per Day

Source: Thompson et al. (2001), National Water Demand Management Centre, Environment Agency, U.K. (2003), Gombos (2003), Water Services Association of Australia (2001), Mayer et al. (1999)


  • Choose water-efficient appliances

  • (clothes washers, dishwashers)

Household Water Use

Tips to reduce indoor household water consumption by almost 50%:


Household Water Use reduce:

  • Large domestic water demand for irrigation of lawns, landscapes, and golf courses

    • - 30 billion liters of water a day in the U.S.

  • 45 million kg of fertilizers and chemicals used per year

  • Excess fertilizers and chemicals run off into streams, seep into groundwater

    • - contaminating drinking water

    • - polluting lakes and ponds


Household Water Use

To reduce outdoor water consumption…

  • Use more efficient sprinklers and irrigation systems


5. Industrial Water Use and Material Goods Consumption reduce:

  • Major water-using industries:

    • Thermal electric power

    • Iron and steel

    • Pulp and paper

    • Chemicals

    • Petroleum

    • Machinery manufacture

  • Water is used for cooling, washing, processing, heating

  • In developing countries, pollutant loads rising along with industrial water demand


  • Industrial Water Use and Material Goods Consumption reduce:

    • Incentives for increasing efficiency of water use in industrial facilities:

    • Cost savings

    • Need to comply with permit requirements

    • Advances in technologies that allow process water to be reused and recycled

    • Availability of low-cost reclaimed nonpotable water


    How Individuals Can Reduce Their Impacts on Freshwater reduce:

    • Purchase fewer material goods

    • Eat a nutritious, less meat-intensive diet

    • Select native plants and grasses for landscapes, rely on natural rainfall


    How Individuals Can Reduce Their Impacts on Freshwater reduce:

    • Install water-efficient appliances and fixtures

    • Support local land use ordinances that protect wetlands, aquifers, and watersheds

    • Serve on local water management boards to monitor and enforce water protection strategies


    6. Policy Priorities: Government Action reduce:

    • Protect public trust in water

    • Institute or strengthen groundwater regulations to promote sustainable use

    • Implement tiered water pricing to encourage conservation: unit price of water increases along with consumption


    Policy Priorities: Government Action reduce:

    • Restrict water use during seasonal lows

    • Encourage water trading between willing sellers and buyers to reallocate available supply


    About the Authors reduce:

    “Boosting Water Productivity”

    by Sandra Postel and Amy Vickers

    Sandra Postel is co-author of Rivers for Life: Managing Water for People and Nature (Island Press, 2003), and director of the Global Water Policy Project in Amherst, MA.

    More at www.globalwaterpolicy.org

    Amy Vickers, author of the award-winning Handbook of Water Use and Conservation: Homes, Businesses, Landscapes, Industries, Farms (WaterPlow Press) is an engineer and water conservation specialist based in Amherst, MA.

    More at www.waterplowpress.com


    More information on reduce:

    State of the World 2004

    at www.worldwatch.org


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