Support and guidance - Unit 3, topic 2 : Water Conflicts

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Transcript Support and guidance - Unit 3, topic 2 : Water Conflicts

6GEO3 Unit 3 Contested Planet Topic 2 Water Conflicts

What is this topic about?

• • • •

Water Conflicts is the second of the ‘resources’ topics It examines the range of conflicts associated with the supply and demand patterns of the fundamental resource of water.

Water supplies and quality vary globally, and actual and potential conflicts arise from the gap between growing demands and diminishing supplies.

There are also growing pressures resulting from climate change Mega technological fixes for mega problems (Hoover Dam, USA) versus Low tech solutions (Taanka storage of India)

CONTENTS 1.The geography of water supply 2. The risks of water insecurity 3. Water conflicts and the future

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2. The risks of water insecurity

What are the potential implications of an increasingly ‘water insecure’ world?

Water supply problems

Increasing water shortages may be more important than energy shortages because there is no alternative!

Water conflicts

Where demand exceeds supply and no effective management operates, then there will be conflicts between the various players involved

Water geopolitics

The conflicts between nation states, despite the international agreement called the Helsinki Rules designed to create more equitable use of water extending across boundaries

Water transfers

Of this precious resource by either diverting the actual river, or using canals . Long carried out at a small scale but increasingly over larger distances, and even transboundary

1.The geography of water supply and demand

River systems

transport this water, often at continental scale. • Flows increase downstream as tributaries enter. • Seasonal changes in temperature can create distinctive

river regimes.

• The relationship between water inputs and outputs is water balance


• Climatic zones are critical in determining water availability • • Equatorial / tropical areas have higher rainfall than temperate / arctic areas.

• High altitude areas have snowpack water reserves released in late spring.

• Monsoon areas have one main peak, equatorial areas two peaks.

Some tropical areas experience recurring drought Physical influences on water supply and scarcity


• Surface drainage occurs on rocks which are impermeable such as granite and clay. • Permeable rocks like limestone, chalk and some sandstones store water, called


97.2% Ocean & saltwater

Humans affect the hydrological cycle at many points of flows and storage:

Land use changes affect interception + infiltration + surface storage; Eg urbanisation, deforestatio n By Quantity ( adding to or abstracting) or Quality(pollution )

Disruption of water cycle

Flood management + dam construction affect channel flow + storage

Human influences on water supply and scarcity

• Water abstraction affects ground water storage, and can create salinisation and salt water incursion • •    • • Blue water flow is the visible part of the hydrological system: surface flows and then recharging aquifers Green water flow is water intercepted, stores and released by vegetation by evaporation and transpiration Grey water is polluted water Supply can be from: Surface sources groundwater sources In the UK 2/3 of supply is from surface and 1/3 from groundwater, with regional variations.

Freshwater is effectively a finite resource since only about 1% of freshwater is easily available for human use.

The water footprint indicates how much is required by consumers- and in an increasingly globalised world, the footprint of someone in a country like the UK will not be just local as so many products using water will have been produced elsewhere!

Some key definitions

Water shortage Water stress Water scarcity

low level of water supply relative to basic needs.

often taken as less than 1700m3 per person per year supply of water per person falls below 1000m3/year

Physical water scarcity Economic water scarcity

reached when 60% of river flows are diverted for agricultural, industrial & municipal purposes; globally over 75% is now used when less than 25% of rivers are used, and there is abundant supply potential: water does not reach the poorest people • population, or the number of people dependent on each unit of water •growing conflict between users and competition for water • declining standards of reliability and service • harvest failures and food insecurity.


•a high rate of use compared to available supply, especially if the remaining supply is difficult or costly to tap.

Physical water scarcity is shown by: • Severe environmental degradation •Declining groundwater and water allocation which favours some groups over others.

•Arid and semi-arid areas are most at risk This is often due to political reasons and conflict: easiest to solve by low technology solutions: small dams, water harvesting from roof tops etc. It is targeted by NGOs like Water Aid

Water scarcity hotspots

According to the International Water Management Institute environmental research organisation global water stress is increasing, and 1/3 rd of all people face some sort of water scarcity. Agricultural uses dominate in the growing need for food.

Egypt imports > 50% of its food because of physical scarcity Aral Sea faces environmental catastrophe, although recent attempts to reduce impacts of river diversions for especially cotton production Severe water scarcity N China, leading to South North transfer scheme-see later slide Ogallala aquifer provides 1/3 all US irrigation water, but is seriously depleted: the water table is dropping by about 1m/yr. As a ‘fossil’ reserve, formed probably from past glacial meltwater flows, it is effectively a finite resource R Ganges: physical stress from pollution and over abstraction Australia; diversion ¼ of all water away from Murray Darling Basin for agriculture Much of sub Saharan Africa suffers from economic scarcity from especially poverty but also lack of infrastructural development . Some 1 bn people involved1

Little/no water scarcity

Physical water scarcity- not necessarily dry areas but those where over 75% river flows are used by agriculture, industry or domestic consumers Economic water scarcity- less than 25% rivers used, and abundant supply potential but not reaching the poorest people . Approaching physical water scarcity – More than 60% river flows allocated, and in the near future these river basins will have physical scarcity

Water conflicts

Population growth Consumer demand Industrial growth Agricultural demand





Reductions because of: • Users abstracting/polluting upstream • Deteriorating quality • Impact of climate change


Conflicting demands

PRESSURE POINT- ie need for management. This is shown spatially as a ‘hotspot’ of conflict, see map on next slide.

Pressure and hence tension and conflict may be over surface flow and/or groundwater supplies Dams and diversions and loss of wetlands are particularly contested.

• International conflicts i.e. basin crosses national boundaries • Internal conflicts ie within a country • Conservation versus exploitation

Present and potential water conflict hotspots

• • As water supply decreases, tensions will increase as different players try to access common water supplies Many conflicts are transboundary in nature, either between states or countries

River basins currently in dispute

River basins at risk in the future Tigris-Euphrates Iraq + Syria concerns that Turkey’s GAP project will divert their water Ob Large International drainage basins Colorado: disputes between the 7 US states and Mexico it flows through. The river is so overused, that it no longer reaches the sea!.

90% abstracted before reaches Mexico La Plata Lake Chad


although there have been rising tensions globally, many areas demonstrate effective management to diffuse the situation and create more equitable and sustainable demand-supply balance, such as the Mekong River Committee,& the Nile River Initiative Okavango Zambezi Ganges Nile hotly disputed between Ethiopia and Sudan ,who control its headwaters, and Egypt .

Mekong The Aral Sea, an inland drainage basin, once the world’s 4 th largest inland lake has shrunk sine the 1950s after the 2 rivers feeding it: the Amu Dayra and Syr Darya were diverted for irrigation.

By 2007 the sea was 10% of original volume and split into 2 lakes. The ex soviet states are in conflict: Uzbekistan , Turkmenistan and Kazakstan.

History of hydropolitics in Nile Basin

•tensions due to the dominance of Egypt • civil wars in Sudan Ethiopia • tensions from Egypt’s treaties dating back to the 1929 and 1959 Nile Water Agreements.

• Upstream states increasingly challenging Egypt’s dominance.

•Ethiopia wants to use the Nile River for HEP plants and industrial development.

Hydropolitics and geopolitics

Political negotiations centred on conflicts over the shared use of water sources

• The Nile is the world’s longest river , 6,500kms, 2.9km2 catchment,10% of Africa, running through 10 countries with 360 million people depending on it for survival.

• Growing issues of desertification & salination and increased evaporation linked to climate change • About 85 % water originates from Eritrea and Ethiopia, but 94 % is used by Sudan and Egypt.

• •

Evidence of more effective co-operation

• The Nile Basin Initiative, system of cooperative management which started late 1990s • All countries except Eritrea working with The World Bank and bi-lateral aid donors .

Community level involvement .

Managers visited Colorado River recently to see how effectively the 1922 River Water Compact and its ‘law of the river’ works

Tech Fix ;

The megaprojects of dams like Aswan are famous. Latest high tech is the 1990sproject called ‘Tecconile’ a joint GIS system to help monitor and plan the basin • •

1996 Helsinki Rules on the Uses of the

Waters of International Rivers - regulating how transboundary rivers and groundwater are managed The Nile Basin is an example that ‘Water Wars’ may be averted

Source area

Water transfers- a quick fix?

Receiving area

Less water • Leads to reduced use by locals, may increase poverty More water • Solves existing demand • leads to greater use Ecosystem changes • Degradation/ destruction • Less functioning • Less productive Development demands • Rising megacities and Industrial growth • tourism especially golf courses • Improved human health Pollution • Less dilution • More concentration of pollutants • More silt Agricultural demands • Encourages unsustainable irrigated farming by agri business Pollution • Pollution from nitrate eutrophication and salination • Transfers pollution from original river to new location • Ecosystem destruction

I nternational

Lesotho to South Lesotho Highlands Water Project

Examples of existing schemes

Africa: Turkey to Israel by tanker


Snowy Mountains-Australia Melamchi Nepal Tagus-Mercia Spain

Proposed schemes International

Turkey to Israel undersea pipelines Austrian Alps to Spain + Greece by pipeline


South-North transfer- China Ebro -Spain Ob to the Aral Sea NAWAPA Alaska to California

Mega Tech Fixes: China’s South–North water transfer

Demand from industrial centres, high population density and intensive agriculture. Low rainfall and over abstracted groundwater: physical scarcity


• Industrial growth along routeways will exacerbate existing pollution problems • Changes in water balances: reduced water in Yangtze means less dilution and more pollution • Displaced people especially from Dang Jiang Kou dam ......

Western Routes Work starts 2010, at high altitude, very difficult 500kms at 3 5000m above sea level

Yellow River

Central routes 1267 km diversion. May have to use some water from 3 Gorges reservoir to help CHINA

Yangtze River

Beijing Tianjin Eastern Route 1,155km long diversion Shanghai

One of the largest water transfers globally


Aim: to divert 45bn m3/year from the water surplus river basins of the S and E to the water deficit areas of the North, especially Beijing and Tianjin 0 mls 250 Originally planned 1952, started 2002 ,due to finish 2050.

Chief player

: Government sponsored ‘South to North Water Transfer Project Company, with each province having a local water company. Involves huge civil engineering works, 3 major canals, pipelines, tunnels, pumping stations South China Sea

In the Northern region: Turkey is in dispute with Syria and Iraq over damming more of the Tigris and Euphrates river In the Western Region: Israelis, Syrians, Jordanians and Lebanese are all in dispute over shrinking water supplies A contributory factor to the 1967 Arab Israeli war Water storage is in 3 huge aquifers under the Israeli mountains and coastal strip and the R Jordan

Water issues in the Middle East

The Aral Sea, on the boundary of the Middle East and Asia is suffering from over abstraction and pollution • • • • There are significant disputes over access to water already in this area The combination of a growing population and low seasonal rainfall are the main causes.

Is the energy dependent technological fix of desalination the answer?

Photo of a plant in Dubai

3. Water conflicts and the future

What are the possible conflicts and solutions to increasing demands for water?

This section looks at 4 themes, and the table below summarises three scenarios for the future 1.




Trends in water demand globally and locally Water players Responses to need to increasing water supply and the issues these strategies raise The role of technology in water supply

Business as usual Water Crisis Sustainable Water

The cost of water will increase Water consumption will increase resulting in declining stores Food transfers will mitigate shortage of water in areas where agriculture declines Demand will outstrip supply The proportion of the world’s population without access to clean water will increase Food insecurity and migration will increase Conflicts of water supplies (intra and inter state) become more likely Agricultural and household water prices will double in the developed world and triple in the developing world Global water consumption will fall, although the gap between per capita use will close Green water flows will increase Improvements in water harvesting and farming techniques allow food yields to increase whilst water consumption declines

From: 2002 International Food Policy and Research Institute future models

• • • •

World Water Days- trying to be more sustainable?

The importance of water in managing global issues is shown by the profile given to it by the UN: It declared 2005 to 2015 as the International Decade for Action, "Water for Life”.

Every year on March 22 nd the UN gives a theme to publicise current issues. 2010 World Water Day: dedicated to the theme of water quality. Such global action is rooted in the iconic Earth Summit on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and the creation of Agenda21 (the Blueprint for planet management at global scale)and Local Agenda 21( global problems, local action) • • • • • • • •

Previous Themes for World Water Days

• 2009 Transboundary water 2008 Sanitation 2007 Coping with water scarcity 2006 Water and Culture 2005 Water for Life 2004: Water and Disasters 2003: Water for the Future 2002: Water for Development 2001: Water and Health

UN MDG TARGET set in 2000: Halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

The world is ahead of schedule in meeting the 2015

drinking water


Yet a number of countries face an ‘uphill battle’: 884 million people still rely on

unimproved water sources

for their drinking, cooking, bathing and other domestic activities.

Of these, almost 85 % (746 million people) live in

rural areas


1990 to 2006, 1.1 billion people in the developing world received access to toilets, latrines and other forms of improved sanitation. But this leaves 1.4 billion people still needing such facilities if the 2015 target is to be met.

• • •

Water Players and decision makers

Different players have conflicting views on water insecurity One player may have quite complex views; most Governments will have departments wanting conservation as opposed to development You need to identify the ‘stakeholders’ in any particular case study, and then the role of the ‘gatekeepers’ who wield power. The next slide shows a classification of players Political: water is a human need • International organisations e.g. UN • Government • Regional & local councils • Lobbyists & pressure groups

Social: water is a human right



Consumers land owners, health officials, NGOs like Water Aid

Photograph of Aral Sea with grounded tanker


• Conservationists • Scientists & planners


• International: World Bank & IMF • TNCs and developers • Businesses and users

Classifying the water players

Global National Local Individual

Political Economic Social Environmental

World Bank funds megaprojects to improve supply. Has become more environmentally conscious. This group also has businesses and TNCs UN Millenium Development Goal called The Water Target:"Halve, by 2015, the proportion of

people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation "

World Health Organisation

G8 Summits : 2002 Evian action Plan, focus on water, and 2009 L’Aquila summit increased aid to poorer countries to help MDGs, + highlighted need for more integrated management Government owned water companies, eg China TNCs (Viendi and Suez RWE which owns Thames Water, American Water Works Companies providing technological fixes The role of NGOs such as Water Aid or GLOWS has been crucial in managing water supplies Countries such as India, have mounted successful massive community led campaigns on things like elimination of open defecation

Government Health Agencies

from national to local scale

WWF and Friends of the

Earth campaign for full Environmental Impact Assessments of major projects likely to damage the environment This group will include many scientists and researchers At a local scale NIMBY groups will campaign 6.9 billion consumers

• • •

Responses: Management strategies

Water conflicts can be managed in a range of different ways There is a spectrum of different management strategies Some are sustainable as they balance ecological and human needs

What is Sustainability?

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment definition:

A characteristic or state whereby the needs of the present and local population can be met without compromising the ability of future generations or populations in other locations to meet their needs.

Present policies

Driven by short term economic + political concerns Often do not include science and effective technology

Strategies rely on technology?

Obstacles to sustainable management

•Climate change uncertainty and effects •Natural variability of water •Pressures caused by human activities and rapid growth of transition economies towards a consumerist society •Increased water demands •Gross inefficiencies in use •Poor existing quality of supply across huge areas of world •Funding •Access to appropriate technology

Future policies?

Longer term?

Need more research, information and monitoring especially on aquifers in developing countries More partnerships?

More community involvement?

More accountable?

• • • • • Water management often focuses on large scale, technologically advanced mega projects These often have complex costs and benefits Water conservation and restoration of supply have a role Small scale, bottom-up schemes are likely to be important in the developing world However, unless duplicated on large scale may be ineffective for longer term economic growth

Low tech solutions to water : a case study

The problem

: The River WAKAL area of Rajasthan in NW India is one of the driest and poorest areas in India. Subsistence agriculture dominates. 96% of rainfall is from the 3-4 month monsoon (late June through September.) and the traditional methods of using groundwater and conserving surface water are falling short of demands

A solution?

Basic technology and information is channelled through the NGO: GLOWS( global water for sustainability project) a partnership between World Vision India and Florida International University.


1. Increasing simple

low tech appropriate and intermediate

solutions to increase storage: •Increased rainwater harvesting •Improved storage system at a family scale:


: 3 m in diameter , 3-4 m deep, most below land level with a side opening to allow surface flow in. They store about 20,000litres, and once full provide water for a family until next monsoon. 2. Using colourful


performed by trained locals to villagers to illustrate the advantages of working


with other families and villages to reduce desertification and pollution of ground water by since aquifers are shared-if an unseen resource! (see photgraph)


: Traditional low tech methods of water conservation.: stone dams, Persian water wheels and tube wells- but cannot cope with increased demand and increased droughts

Hard and soft management

How to meet the challenge of the need for more water?

Traditional ‘hard’ engineering

• • • • • Dams; currently 845000 of which 5000 classed as megadams. The aim is to increase natural storage capacity by artificial reservoirs. Rivers most at risk at present: Yangtze, Amazon, Danube and many in the Himalayas Channels, seen in most arid/semi arid countries whatever their economic status, eg Jonglei Canal on Nile Pipelines eg Australia and California Aqueduct and snowy Mountains scheme Australia Desalination plants eg in Middle East Recharging schemes for depleted aquifers, eg North London Artificial recharge Scheme and Long Island New York

Newer hard technologies

•Tankers to transport water eg turkey to israel •Osmosis membranes filtering salt from

Softer more environmentally and

• • • •

ethically responsible approaches

Water conservation eg targeted drip irrigation on plants in Ethiopia, includes water harvesting Water restoration eg Northern Aral Sea, and on smaller scale river Colne in UK Integrated drainage basin management , especially if bottom up and community involved. The 4 Rs: ie

an attitudinal fix:

Reduce, Respect, Reuse, Renew.....

Specific Technologies seen as appropriate /intermediate with less

brackish water eg Israel (the Ashkelon plant produces 15% of domestic demand). Also in California, Spain and China •Fertigation: fertilser and water drip feeding of

negative externalities

•Water harvesting of grey water eg Belize •Micro dams serving villages eg Nepal •Water meters to reduce use eg UK •Composting latrines – seen in National Trust crops, as in Israel properties in UK to Mumbai slums!

Water Conflicts overview

• • • • •  • 

Water Resources

Water like energy is a fundamental need but not evenly distributed Factors influencing geography of supply: Physical-surface, groundwater, desalinisation Human: demand, management, mismanagement Increasing demand not matched by supply= WATER


Implications for human well being- which is why it is named in the MDGs Demand from various users Water resources are often transboundary • • • • •

Water Conflict

Potential conflicts=high both local & international Resource use often exceeds recharge capacity leading to long term degradation Future is in doubt because of unsustainable use+ climate change Vulnerable populations most at risk Management strategies to ensure supply require cooperation of many different players = changes in way water is valued & used

Water Futures

Water stress and scarcity are projected to increase because: •

Climate change will make some areas more arid and rainfall more unreliable

Glacial water sources will reduce due to climate change

Unsustainable use of some supplies will decrease their quality and quantity

Demand will rise due to population and economic growth

Water wars will lead to winners and losers in water supply

Therefore, there are alternative futures – It all depends on the decisions the players make....

and climate change, population trends, energy security, superpower politics, bridging the development gap etc …



• • • • • •

Energy and Water: Solving Both Crises Together:

Water and energy are the two most fundamental ingredients of modern civilization We consume massive quantities of water to generate energy, and we consume massive quantities of energy to deliver clean water

Peak Oil is topical. Peak Water or ‘Blue Gold’ is less thought about.

There are tensions between the two: water restrictions are hampering solutions for generating more energy problems, particularly rising prices, are curtailing efforts to supply more clean water.


An issue in energy rich states ,which are semi arid/arid: to sell cheap oil or keep to power desalinisation plants Water is needed to generate energy. Energy is needed to deliver water. Both resources are limiting the other—and both may be running short. Is there a way out?