Water Scarcity, Restrictions & Extreme Weather Events throughout the World
Recently our news headlines have consisted of terms like restrictions, scarcity, droughts, and flooding.
Europe is facing its worst drought in at least 500 years (Blenkinsop, 2022), with two-thirds of the continent in a state of alert or warning, reducing inland shipping, electricity production, and the yields of certain crops (Whitt & Imster, 2022).
More than 43% of the US was in drought at the end of July (Ellerbeck, 2022). Two of the largest reservoirs in America – Lake Mead and Lake Powell, which provide water and electricity to millions, are in danger of reaching ‘dead pool’ status. If it were to reach ‘dead pool’ status this would mean the water level in the dams was so low, that water could no longer flow downstream and power the hydroelectric power stations (United Nations, 2022). The Southern Nevada Water Authority estimates Southern Nevada only has 8 years of water reserves left (Vigil, 2022).
China has been breaking heat records all summer, its largest freshwater lake, Poyang, is drying up and the Yangtze River, the third largest in the world, home to 450 million people and 1/3 of China’s crops, is withering away (Whitt & Imster, 2022).
Four years of failed rains in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia have left the Horn of Africa facing catastrophe. The drought puts 22 million people at risk of starvation by September, according to a report from the United Nations World Food Program (WFP). The region is seeing the worst drought conditions in 40 years, with no end in sight (Whitt & Imster, 2022).
The bottom line is drought is crippling many regions of the world in 2022. According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), over the last 20 years, 90% of major disasters were caused by floods, droughts, and other water-related events (United Nations, 2022).
“We are at a crossroads” according to Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. “We need to steer toward the solutions rather than continuing with destructive actions, believing that marginal change can heal systemic failure.” (Ellerbeck, 2022).
It’s easy to get complacent in New Zealand as these international headlines come during our winter and frequent rainfalls. It is easy to forget that 2021 was the hottest year on record and Auckland experienced water restrictions from May 2020 – October 2021 (17 months) (Niall, 2021). As spring approaches and considering the international trends, it is highly likely New Zealand will experience drought and water restrictions in the coming months (Kitchen, 2022).
Although it is not all doom and gloom, intelligent water solutions are popping up all around the globe, and campaigns to change our relationship and behavior with water are becoming more frequent.
Influencing positive change all starts with understanding your water use and education on the importance of water conservation. Whether you’re a homeowner, a community, or a business – water usage should be at the top of your sustainability policy. Reducing your water usage may be easier than you think!
We’re here to help – whether it’s stormwater management, rainwater harvesting, or greywater recycling, intelligent water solutions help reduce reliance, consumption, emissions, and money. Get in touch today.
Blenkinsop, P. (2022, August 24). Europe facing its worst drought in 500 years – study. ‘Retrieved from Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/nearly-two-thirds-europe-facing-drought-or-drought-risk-2022-08-23/
Countercurrents Collective. (2022, August 12). Europe Faces Worst Drought In 500 Years. Retrieved from Countercurrents: https://countercurrents.org/2022/08/europe-faces-worst-drought-in-500-years/
Ellerbeck, S. (2022, August 12). Droughts are getting worse around the world, here’s why and what needs to be done. Retrieved from World Economic Forum: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/08/drought-water-climate-un/
Kitchen, T. (2022, January 20). NIWA predicts drought for top and bottom of the country. Retrieved from RNZ: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/459866/niwa-predicts-drought-for-top-and-bottom-of-the-country
Niall, T. (2021, October 21). Auckland water shortage: Council lifts restrictions after 17 months as dams fill. Retrieved from Stuff: https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/126741957/auckland-water-shortage-council-lifts-restrictions-after-17-months-as-dams-fill
United Nations. (2022, August 2). As the climate dries the American west faces power and water shortages, experts warn. Retrieved from United Nations Environment Programme: https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/story/climate-dries-american-west-faces-power-and-water-shortages-experts-warn
Vigil, J. (2022, August 20). Southern Nevada has 8 years of water reserves as state faces water cuts from Colorado River. Retrieved from Fox 5 Vegas: https://www.fox5vegas.com/2022/08/20/southern-nevada-has-eight-years-water-reserves-nevada-faces-water-shortage-cuts-colorado-river/
Whitt, K., & Imster, E. (2022, August 26). Drought around the world, August 2022, in dramatic images. Retrieved from EarthSky: https://earthsky.org/earth/drought-around-world-2022-revealing-hidden-artifacts/