Water Supply: State of the World


We’re seeing efforts on the world’s continents to grapple with growing populations and providing them with water.

The European Union announced last week that 2.6 million more people in the EU’s member states are being served by water supply, and 5.7 million more by wastewater projects.

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Wellington Dam from the air.The figures are part of an overview of how EU Structural Funds are working in member states. Through its three funds-the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF), and the Cohesion Fund-the EU is investing €347 billion from 2007-2013 in the 27 member states. This represents 35% of the total EU budget for the same period (€975 billion), according to a European Union release.

Most of the additional population served by water projects, nearly 1.3 million, lives in the following countries: Estonia (around 1,675,488), France (408,300), Portugal (202,700) and Greece (160,800).

You can read the EU’s press report, and within it links to the fund studies here.


China’s water-supply struggles seem to be growing, according to GreenBiz.com. These include “Droughts in the north, floods in the south. Toxic industrial runoff, overdrawn ground water and even bloated pigs and dead ducks in major waterways.”

eca86bd9d54312a2065701But the report by Brooke Barton notes that specific information on the problems is hard to come by:

Media censorship and poor government data means limited access to information for many corporate managers we speak to at Ceres who are only beginning to understand the complicated nature of the water risks facing their Chinese supply base.

But the basic news that is coming out can signal alarm. Barton writes:

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At least 50 percent of Chinese urban groundwater and 90 percent of urban rivers are considered polluted. About half of all wastewater is released into the environment untreated, affecting ecological and human health alike. And a government assessment released just last week found that half of China’s rivers — 28,000 in all — have simply “disappeared” since the country’s waterways were last surveyed in the 1990s.

These issues can have a direct effect on the U.S., Barton explains:

We all know that China is the supply chain hub for the American economy. Nearly everything we use — mobile phones, TVs, handbags and even U.S. Olympic team clothing — is made in China, where export jobs support 200 million workers.

Link to Barton’s article and its resources here.

India, Australia Share Water Management

The Australian government and the Indian Institute of Technology have signed a memorandum of understanding to share the Aussies’ hydrological modeling platform Source.

murray-darling-basinAustralia’s The Sydney Morning Herald reported last week:

Australia developed the Source software over 15 years, at a cost of more than $300 million, as a modelling tool to improve the management of Australia’s major river system, the Murray-Darling Basin.

In Delhi, eWater chief executive Gary Jones said there were similarities in India’s river basins to the Murray-Darling experience, including competing demands for water from different sectors, conflict between states over water rights, high rainfall variability, and the effects of climate change.

The news report explained that “many of India’s most famous rivers, such as the Ganges and Yamuna, are toxically polluted, and major cities often run dry of drinking water.”

Meanwhile, in Mumbai, India, water from the BMC supply chain has grown markedly dirtier, The Times of India reported last week.

By the civic body’s own admission, of the tens of thousands of water samples it tested in 2012-2013, 19% were found unsafe for consumption. This was far worse than in 2011-2012, when the tally of samples found undrinkable was 16%.

All year round, the corporation’s engineers and health officers randomly collect water samples to study the quality of supply. In 2012-2013, officials gathered 60,726 samples from the 24 municipal wards. Nearly 11,700 of these tested contaminated. And of these dirty samples, 1,474 were found to have the deadly E.coli bacteria.


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Tanzania’s newspaper The Citizen recently reported that WaterAid, an international non-governmental organization, has challenged the United Nations to set a new global target to achieve its Millennium Development Goal No 7, a universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene by 15 more years, because the UN probably won’t meet its 2015 target.

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Medical journal The Lancet conducted a 2012 study which revealed that about 400,000 children under five die every year in sub-Saharan Africa due to diarrhea primarily caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation, The Citizen said. The newspaper’s reporter Athuman Mtulya added:

WaterAid Pan-Africa programme manager Nelson Gomonda said: “A total of 330 million Africans today live without access to clean water, so the road to travel is long, but we can for the first time see the end in sight. With more than 1,000 African children under five dying every day of diseases due to lack of water and sanitation, Africans will not accept failure. We have to reach this target.”

situation_3_2464819876In 2008, African governments signed the eThekwini Declaration, committing them to spending at least 0.5 per cent of their GDP on sanitation and hygiene. But WaterAid issued a report in February showing the governments were not meeting that commitment.

See The Citizen story here.

Meanwhile, in Ethiopia, UNICEF and the nation’s Ministries of Education; Health; and Water, Mines and Energy, have issued a set of guidelines to improve access and quality of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in the country’s primary schools and health facilities.

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Ethiopia’s DireTube Media Group reported:

Current data from a National WASH Inventory conducted in 2012, revealed that the water supply for primary schools stands at 31 per cent, while sanitation coverage is 33 per cent in an estimated 27,000 primary schools across Ethiopia. In the country’s 3, 200 health facilities, a mere 32 per cent have safe water.

In northwestern Nigeria, the state of Zamfara’s Governor Abdulaziz Yari announced his administration has so far spent N7 billion to improve water supply throughout the state in the last two years.

He said the state government had already paid contractors about N4 billion to handle water projects across the state. He was awaiting project completions, and then would pay up the outstanding balance, according to Premium Times.

United States

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Red-River-BasinThe U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled Tuesday to hear a battle between Texas and Oklahoma over water rights. Today’s newsok.com reports:

The case before the high court was brought by the Tarrant Regional Water District, a Texas agency that provides water to more than 6 million residents of North Texas and says it desperately needs more water to supply the growing population.

The agency claims Texas is entitled to water that can only be obtained in Oklahoma, and it argues that the compact implicitly allows for the water to be taken from Oklahoma.

Oklahoma and the other two states that are part of the Red River Compact – Arkansas and Louisiana – say the compact doesn’t entitle Texas to take water within Oklahoma’s boundaries.

Meanwhile, in Arkansas, Central Arkansas Water’s Board of Commissioners is asking ExxonMobil for a plan to move an oil pipeline away from an area that drains into the main source of drinking water for Little Rock and surrounding communities.

Chem.Info reports:

The request came nearly two weeks after ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline ruptured and spilled thousands of barrels of oil in Mayflower, a small city about 25 miles northwest of Little Rock.

ExxonMobil has said the March 29 spill didn’t affect Mayflower’s drinking water supply, which comes from a lake about 65 miles away and is managed by a different supplier.

But that hasn’t ended concerns about drinking water in the region, as the pipeline runs through part of the Lake Maumelle Watershed, the area that drains into the main drinking water supply for hundreds of thousands of people.

Central Arkansas Water’s board is also asking ExxonMobil to come up with short-term solutions to reduce the risk of an oil spill in the watershed.