Water scarcity involves water stress, water deficits, water shortage and water crisis. The concept of water stress is relatively new. Water stress is the difficulty of obtaining sources of fresh water for use, because of depleting resources. Some have presented maps showing the physical existence of water in nature to show nations with lower or higher volumes of water available for use. Others have related water availability to population. A popular approach has been to rank countries according to the amount of annual water resources available per person.
For example, according to the Falkenmark Water Stress Indicator a country or region is said to experience “water stress” when annual water supplies drop below 1,700 cubic metres per person per year. At levels between 1,700 and 1,000 cubic metres per person per year, periodic or limited water shortages can be expected. When water supplies drop below 1,000 cubic metres per person per year, the country faces “water scarcity” The United Nations’ FAO states that by 2025, 1. billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world population could be under stress conditionsThe World Bank adds that climate change could profoundly alter future patterns of both water availability and use,thereby increasing levels of water stress and insecurity, both at the global scale and in sectors that depend on waterAnother measurement, calculated as part of a wider assessment of water management in 2007, aimed to relate water availability to how the resource was actually used.
It therefore divided water scarcity into ‘physical’ and ‘economic’. Physical water scarcity is where there is not enough water to meet all demands, including that needed for ecosystems to function effectively. Arid regions frequently suffer from physical water scarcity. It also occurs where water seems abundant but where resources are over-committed, such as when there is overdevelopment of hydraulic infrastructure for irrigation. Symptoms of physical water scarcity include environmental degradation and declining groundwater. Water stress harms living things because every organism needs water to live.
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