70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water. Only 3% of water is fit for human consumption, and the rest is frozen or salty. According to a report by WWF, about 1.1 billion people face water shortage in the world. At least 2.7 billion people experience water shortage at least one month in a year. From the report, water shortage affects nearly 27% of the world’s population.
Population growth is estimated at 1.13% or 80 million people per year. Nations need to take drastic measures to ensure the availability of clean water.
We are going to look at the causes, solutions, and effects of water shortage in California.
What causes water shortage?
Pollution causes contamination of water sources, making it unfit for human consumption. Industrial waste, oil spillages, and discharge of waste into water sources make it unsafe for drinking, thus making water scarce.
- Overuse of water
Overuse of water in irrigation makes it scare for consumption and other uses.
- Water wastage
Some people leave taps running when water is not in use. Water lost to the ground causes shortages and lack of enough water.
During a drought period, rivers, swamps, ponds, streams, and other water sources dry up. There is scarce water for domestic and industrial use.
In some regions, there is conflict over water sources like rivers and other water sources. This may cause others to have it and others not to access.
In some dry areas, people live far away from oasis and boreholes, where they can fetch clean water. Traveling to get water takes a lot of time. Carrying water is also a burden that discourages many people. The long-distance may cause water shortage in such communities.
- Restriction by governments
Some governments may restrict water supply and accessibility to its citizens. It is a common practice in some dictatorship governments.
- Destruction of water catchment areas
Forests are the natural water catchment areas. Activities like deforestation to pave the way for human settlement is a major problem that has resulted in decreasing forested areas and destruction of water catchment areas. This results in low rainfall, which brings water shortage in the long-term.
What are the effects of water shortage?
- Lack of adequate drinking water
Water is essential for better health in humans. When there is water shortage, people lack enough water to drink, thus affecting their lives and health.
- Lack of education
In arid areas, children abandon school and assist their parents in looking for water. During droughts, some children become very weak and cannot go to school.
When there is not enough water, farming is affected. Crops that grow on irrigations cannot grow when there is low or no water supply. As a result, there is less food for people.
- Diseases and parasites
Water is used for bathing. During water shortages, people stay long before taking a shower. Dirty bodies and poor hygiene make them susceptible to infections and parasite attacks.
- Sanitation problems
Lack of water makes cleaning of dishes, houses, clothes, and other household items very challenging. The unhygienic conditions are not suitable for an individual’s health.
What are the solutions?
Preventing water shortage is the way to go. However, a lot of bureaucracy by the government and businesses with a vested interest may limit this goal. Here are some ways of improving water shortages.
- Educating people on benefits and ways of water conservation
- Enacting laws prohibiting pollutions. Those found pollution water sources should pay a fine, face imprisonment or both
- Encourage recycling of rainwater
- Protect water catchment areas
- Encourage farmers to conserve water
- Contribute funds for clean water initiatives in arid areas and areas with water shortages
The drought in California
California has been a prolonged drought that is set to continue. The drought has cost the California economy close to $2.7 billion.
For three years, there has been no rainfall or snowfall, which has caused the Colorado River to dry up. Drying up of this river has affected California and the other seven states.
The California drought has affected flora and fauna life. Increased spread of the West Nile Virus has affected the health of the local population. Increased wildfires have caused more destruction to forests, plants, and animals, worsening the condition. The geese and ducks population has reduced significantly since the River Colorado dried up.
Measures by the Colorado state government have been enforced to save on the available water. A 36% water cut in all cities and towns has been implemented. Those who defy are slapped with hefty fines.
The recent El Nino storms have come to the rescue of the devastating state by restoring the Golden State Reservoirs to acceptable levels. This is the highest rainfall the region has experienced in five years.
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