Global & Disaster Medicine

Archive for the ‘Water’ Category

India: “suffering from the worst water crisis in its history”

Thomas Reuters

  • 600 million people – nearly half India’s population – face acute water shortage
  • Close to 200,000 die each year from polluted water.
  • Nearly 70 percent of India’s water is contaminated, impacting three in four Indians and contributing to 20 percent of the country’s disease burden.
  • 21 major cities, including New Delhi and India’s IT hub of Bengaluru, will run out of groundwater by 2020, affecting 100 million people.


About 600 million Indians are facing high to extreme stress over water

Al Jazeera

India Water Crisis Document

“…..India is suffering from the worst water crisis in its history and millions of lives and livelihoods are under threat. Currently, 600 million Indians face high to extreme water stress and about two lakh people die every year due to inadequate access to safe water1. The crisis is only going to get worse. By 2030, the country’s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply, implying severe water scarcity for hundreds of millions of people and an eventual ~6% loss in the country’s GDP….”

 


Global Drowning: 3.72 million drown annually in the world

WHO on Drowning

“…..WHO in its latest report on drowning reported that 3,72,000 people die every year worldwide due to drowning. 90 per cent of these deaths takes place in LMIC’s (Low and middle income countries). It is a major contributor towards mortality rates in south east Asia……”

 


March 22: World Water Day

CDC

World Water Day is observed each year on March 22 to promote the responsible use of water and access to safe water for everyone. Around the world, 844 million people still do not have a basic drinking water service.1

Water is one of our most important natural resources. Every day, people, animals, and plants depend on water for their survival. Water is necessary for growing food, energy production, individual well-being, and global health.

Waterborne Disease Prevention Around the World

Clean and safe drinking water sustains human life. Without it, waterborne diseases can spread, sickening and sometimes killing adults and children. CDC’s Global Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) experts work to improve global access to safe water, proper sanitation, and hygiene. CDC experts strengthen WASH efforts in response to humanitarian crises and natural disasters and respond to life-threatening outbreaks of waterborne diseases around the world, including outbreaks of cholera, hepatitis, and typhoid fever. CDC also works closely with other U.S. government agencies, foreign Ministries of Health, non-governmental organizations, UN Agencies, private companies, and various international agencies to improve global access to healthy and safe water, proper sanitation, and hygiene.

The United Nations established a sustainable development goal of improving access to safe water and sanitation facilities. Between 2000 and 2015, over 1 billion people gained access to piped water supplies with the potential to deliver safe water for everyday use (for example, tap water in households or public stand posts that provide piped water). Between 1990 and 2015, more than 2 billion people gained access to an improved sanitation facility (a toilet or latrine designed to ensure that people do not come in contact with waste). Despite these improvements, 844 million people still did not have access to a safe drinking water source, and 2.3 billion still did not have access to an improved sanitation facility. Some 892 million people defecate in the open because they do not have access to any type of toilet or latrine.1

Lack of safe drinking water and toilets increases the chance for outbreaks of waterborne diseases like typhoid fever, hepatitis, and cholera. Typhoid, hepatitis, and cholera germs can spread when human waste containing the germs gets into a community’s water supply. That happens when people do not have access to a sanitation facility that can dispose of waste properly. Although rare in the United States, outbreaks of cholera and typhoid continue to occur in low resource countries. Together, these diseases kill from 149,000 to 304,000 men, women, and children each year.2,3

Now is the time to address these challenges to keep the global water supply safe and available for generations to come.

Visit the United Nations’ World Water Day website for more information on World Water Day and ideas on how to get involved.

World Water Day also presents an opportunity to learn about water-related issues that affect us locally. For more information about CDC’s water-related public health efforts in the United States, visit these websites: Drinking Water, Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene-Related Emergency; and Healthy Swimming.


Cape Town residents have drastically lowered their water use, allowing their drought-plagued city to push back the dreaded “Day Zero” by more than 10 weeks.

NY Times

“…..Cape Town has cut its water consumption to 523 million liters a day…..and less than half of what it was four years ago, before the drought began.….”

 


11 global cities most likely to run out of drinking water

BBC

Cape Town is in the unenviable situation of being the first major city in the modern era to face the threat of running out of drinking water.

However, the plight of the drought-hit South African city is just one extreme example of a problem that experts have long been warning about – water scarcity.

Despite covering about 70% of the Earth’s surface, water, especially drinking water, is not as plentiful as one might think. Only 3% of it is fresh.

Over one billion people lack access to water and another 2.7 billion find it scarce for at least one month of the year. A 2014 survey of the world’s 500 largest cities estimates that one in four are in a situation of “water stress”

According to UN-endorsed projections, global demand for fresh water will exceed supply by 40% in 2030, thanks to a combination of climate change, human action and population growth.

…. Here are the other 11 cities most likely to run out of water.

1. São Paulo

Brazil’s financial capital and one of the 10 most populated cities in the world went through a similar ordeal to Cape Town in 2015, when the main reservoir fell below 4% capacity.

At the height of the crisis, the city of over 21.7 million inhabitants had less than 20 days of water supply and police had to escort water trucks to stop looting.

 

It is thought a drought that affected south-eastern Brazil between 2014 and 2017 was to blame, but a UN mission to São Paulo was critical of the state authorities “lack of proper planning and investments”.

The water crisis was deemed “finished” in 2016, but in January 2017 the main reserves were 15% below expected for the period – putting the city’s future water supply once again in doubt.

2. Bangalore

Local officials in the southern Indian city have been bamboozled by the growth of new property developments following Bangalore’s rise as a technological hub and are struggling to manage the city’s water and sewage systems.

To make matters worse, the city’s antiquated plumbing needs an urgent upheaval; a report by the national government found that the city loses over half of its drinking water to waste.

Like China, India struggles with water pollution and Bangalore is no different: an in-depth inventory of the city’s lakes found that 85% had water that could only be used for irrigation and industrial cooling.

Not a single lake had suitable water for drinking or bathing.

3. Beijing

The World Bank classifies water scarcity as when people in a determined location receive less than 1,000 cubic metres of fresh water per person.

In 2014, each of the more than 20 million inhabitants of Beijing had only 145 cubic metres.

China is home to almost 20% of the world’s population but has only 7% of the world’s fresh water.

A Columbia University study estimates that the country’s reserves declined 13% between 2000 and 2009

And there’s also a pollution problem. Official figures from 2015 showed that 40% of Beijing’s surface water was polluted to the point of not being useful even for agriculture or industrial use.

The Chinese authorities have tried to address the problem by creating massive water diversion projects. They have also introduced educational programmes, as well as price hikes for heavy business users.

4. Cairo

Once crucial to the establishment of one of the world’s greatest civilisations, the River Nile is struggling in modern times.

It is the source of 97% of Egypt’s water but also the destination of increasing amounts of untreated agricultural, and residential waste.

World Health Organization figures show that Egypt ranks high among lower middle-income countries in terms of the number of deaths related to water pollution.

The UN estimates critical shortages in the country by 2025.

5. Jakarta

Like many coastal cities, the Indonesian capital faces the threat of rising sea levels.

But in Jakarta the problem has been made worse by direct human action. Because less than half of the city’s 10 million residents have access to piped water, illegal digging of wells is rife. This practice is draining the underground aquifers, almost literally deflating them.

As a consequence, about 40% of Jakarta now lies below sea level, according to World Bank estimates.

To make things worse, aquifers are not being replenished despite heavy rain because the prevalence of concrete and asphalt means that open fields cannot absorb rainfall.

6. Moscow

One-quarter of the world’s fresh water reserves are in Russia, but the country is plagued by pollution problems caused by the industrial legacy of the Soviet era.

That is specifically worrying for Moscow, where the water supply is 70% dependent on surface water.

Official regulatory bodies admit that 35% to 60% of total drinking water reserves in Russia do not meet sanitary standard

7. Istanbul

According to official Turkish government figures, the country is technically in a situation of a water stress, since the per capita supply fell below 1,700 cubic metres in 2016.

Local experts have warned that the situation could worsen to water scarcity by 2030.

In recent years, heavily populated areas like Istanbul (14 million inhabitants) have begun to experience shortages in the drier months.

The city’s reservoir levels declined to less than 30 percent of capacity at the beginning of 2014.

8. Mexico City

Water shortages are nothing new for many of the 21 million inhabitants of the Mexican capital.

One in five get just a few hours from their taps a week and another 20% have running water for just part of the day.

The city imports as much as 40% of its water from distant sources but has no large-scale operation for recycling wastewater. Water losses because of problems in the pipe network are also estimated at 40%.

9. London

Of all the cities in the world, London is not the first that springs to mind when one thinks of water shortages.

The reality is very different. With an average annual rainfall of about 600mm (less than the Paris average and only about half that of New York), London draws 80% of its water from rivers (the Thames and Lee).

According to the Greater London Authority, the city is pushing close to capacity and is likely to have supply problems by 2025 and “serious shortages” by 2040.

It looks likely that hosepipe bans could become more common in the future

10. Tokyo

The Japanese capital enjoys precipitation levels similar to that of Seattle on the US west coast, which has a reputation for rain. Rainfall, however, is concentrated during just four months of the year.

That water needs to be collected, as a drier-than-expected rainy season could lead to a drought. At least 750 private and public buildings in Tokyo have rainwater collection and utilisation systems.

Home to more than 30 million people, Tokyo has a water system that depends 70% on surface water (rivers, lakes, and melted snow).

Recent investment in the pipeline infrastructure aims also to reduce waste by leakage to only 3% in the near future.

11. Miami

The US state of Florida is among the five US states most hit by rain every year. However, there is a crisis brewing in its most famous city, Miami.

An early 20th Century project to drain nearby swamps had an unforeseen result; water from the Atlantic Ocean contaminated the Biscayne Aquifer, the city’s main source of fresh water.

Although the problem was detected in the 1930s, seawater still leaks in, especially because the American city has experienced faster rates of sea level rise, with water breaching underground defence barriers installed in recent decades.

Neighbouring cities are already struggling. Hallandale Beach, which is just a few miles north of Miami, had to close six of its eight wells due to saltwater intrusion.


Rain comes to Cape Town: The South African Weather Service recorded 6 millimeters of rain, or about 0.24 inches, at Cape Town’s Slangkop Lighthouse overnight.


Urban water demand will increase by 80% by 2050

Nature

Water competition between cities and agriculture driven by climate change and urban growth

Martina Flörke, Christof Schneider & Robert I. McDonald

Nature Sustainability 1, 51–58 (2018)

doi:10.1038/s41893-017-0006-8

“….We project an urban surface-water deficit of 1,3866,764 million m³. More than 27% of cities studied, containing 233 million people, will have water demands that exceed surface-water availability. An additional 19% of cities, which are dependent on surface-water transfers, have a high potential for conflict between the urban and agricultural sectors, since both sectors cannot obtain their estimated future water demands. ….”

 


Cape Town, Population 4 000 000, about to run out of water


Cape Town’s Water is Running Out

Cape Town’s Water is Running Out

acquired January 3, 2014 – January 14, 2018

Cape Town—a cosmopolitan city of 3.7 million people on South Africa’s western coast—is on the verge of running out of water. According to the city’s mayor, if current consumption patterns continue then drinking water taps will be turned off in April and people will have to start procuring water from one of 200 collection points throughout the city.

With key reservoirs standing at precariously low levels, the city forecasts that this so-called Day Zero will happen on April 12, 2018, though the exact date will depend on the weather and on consumption patterns in the coming months. The rainy season normally runs from May to September.

Cape Town’s six major reservoirs can collectively store 898,000 megaliters (230 billion gallons) of water, but they held just 26 percent of that amount as of January 29, 2018. Theewaterskloof Dam—the largest reservoir and the source of roughly half of the city’s water—is in the worst condition, with the water level at just 13 percent of capacity.

In practical terms, the amount of available water is even less than this number suggests because the last 10 percent of water in a reservoir is difficult to use. According to Cape Town’s disaster plan, Day Zero will happen when the system’s stored water drops to 13.5 percent of capacity. At that point, the water that remains will go to hospitals and certain settlements that rely on communal taps. Most people in the city will be left without tap water for drinking, bathing, or other uses.

The animated image at the top of the page shows how dramatically Theewaterskloof has been depleted between January 2014 and January 2018. The extent of the reservoir is shown with blue; non-water areas have been masked with gray in order to make it easier to distinguish how the reservoir has changed. Theewaterskloof was near full capacity in 2014. During the preceding year, the weather station at Cape Town airport tallied 682 millimeters (27 inches) of rain (515 mm is normal), making it one of the wettest years in decades. However, rains faltered in 2015, with just 325 mm falling. The next year, with 221 mm, was even worse. In 2017, the station recorded just 157 mm of rain.

acquired January 3, 2014
acquired January 3, 2014 download large image (2 MB, JPEG, 2372×2840)
acquired January 9, 2016 download large image (2 MB, JPEG, 2372×2840)
acquired January 14, 2018 download large image (2 MB, JPEG, 2372×2840)

This trio of images shows how the three successive dry years took a toll on Cape Town’s water system. Voëlvlei, the second largest reservoir, has dropped to 18 percent of capacity. Some of the smaller reservoirs like the Berg River and Wemmershoek are still relatively full, but they store only a small fraction of the city’s water. One of the largest reservoirs in the area—Brandvlei—does not supply water to Cape Town; its water is used by farmers for irrigation.

The line chart below details how water levels in the six key reservoirs have changed since 2013. Though the reservoirs are replenished each winter as the rains arrive, the trend at almost all of them has been downward. The one exception is Upper Steenbras, which holds about 4 percent of the city’s water and has been kept full because it is also used to generate electricity during peak demand. Also, the city is likely drawing down the largest reservoirs first to minimize how much water is lost to evaporation.

acquired 2012 – 2018

Piotr Wolski, a hydrologist at the Climate Systems Analysis Group at the University of Cape Town, has analyzed rainfall records dating back to 1923 to get a sense of the severity of the current drought compared to historical norms. His conclusion is that back-to-back years of such weak rainfall (like 2016-17) typically happens about once just every 1,000 years.

Population growth and a lack of new infrastructure has exacerbated the current water shortage. Between 1995 and 2018, the Cape Town’s population swelled by roughly 80 percent. During the same period, dam storage increased by just 15 percent.

The city did recently accelerate development of a plan to increase capacity at Voëlvlei Dam by diverting winter rainfall from the Berg River. The project had been scheduled for completion in 2024, but planners are now targeting 2019. The city is also working to build a series of desalination plants and to drill new groundwater wells that could produce additional water.

In the meantime, Cape Town authorities have put tight restrictions on residential water usage. New guidelines ban all use of drinking water for non-essential purposes, while urging people to use less than 50 liters (13 gallons) of water per person per day.

While many people are preparing for the water turn off in April, some observers see signs that Day Zero could still be averted. Kevin Winter, a hydrologist at the University the Cape Town, notes that by the end of January farmers will no longer be drawing from the system, meaning the water that remains may last a little longer. Overall, the agricultural sector uses about half of the water in the system.

NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey and water level data from South Africa’s Department of Water and Sanitation. Story by Adam Voiland.

Instrument(s):
Landsat 8 – OLI
In situ Measurement

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