2.3 Water: demand, supply and quality

The global water crisis

High frequency phrases like water crisis, water shortage, water scarcity and water stress, are peppered throughout the discussion of this topic. The technical difference between the key terms water scarcity & water stress needs to be identified at the outset. They are not well explained in your text and they must be properly defined.

The European Environment  Agency (EEA) provides a good distinction between these two terms:

Water scarcity: Occurs where there are insufficient water resources to satisfy long- term average requirements. It refers to long-term water imbalances, combining low water availability with a level of water demand exceeding the supply capacity of the natural system.

Water stress: Water stress occurs when the demand for water exceeds the available amount during a certain period or when poor quality restricts its use. Water stress causes deterioration of fresh water resources in terms of quantity (aquifer over-exploitation, dry rivers, etc.) and quality.

The local drought study (Alicante, Benidorm, Marina Baixa water study) forms a central case study for us in looking at water problems in this unit.

Desalination: how does it work? The short version:

The longer version:

MEDC and LEDC compared: the water crisis in USA and Sub-Saharan Africa in two videos:


Water Crisis, Water Conflict, and Water Security

These terms occur frequently in the discussion of global water management and the terminology is sometimes used indiscriminately, so we need to be clear on what we mean by these terms.

A timeline of water conflict is presented on the World Water website www2.worldwater.org/conflict/timeline/

Case study of transboundary aquifer system: the Guarani aquifer in South America.



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