Answer in Brief
Explain the causes and effects of depletion of natural water resourecs.
- Water covers more than two-thirds of the Earth's surface. But fresh water represents less than 0.5% of the total water on Earth. The rest is either in the form of seawater or locked up in icecaps or the soil, which is why one often hears of water scarcity in many areas.
- Worldwide, the consumption of water is doubling every 20 years - more than twice the rate of increase in population.
- Though depletion of water resources is not a problem for everyone, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) notes that 1.2 billion people, almost 20 percent of the Earth's population, are experiencing water scarcity. Another 500 million come perilously close to that threshold.
- A large amount of water is wasted in agriculture, industry, and urban areas.
- Excessive extraction for irrigation where groundwater is slowly renewed is the main cause of the depletion, and climate change has the potential to exacerbate the problem in some regions.
- It has been estimated that with available technologies and better operational practices, agricultural water demand could be cut by about 50% and that in urban areas by about 33% without affecting the quality or economics of life.
- But most governments do not have adequate laws or regulations to protect their water systems.
- Due to the increase in population there has been a rise in the demand for food, space for housing, consumer products, etc., which has in turn resulted in increased industrialization, urbanization, and demands in agriculture thereby leading to both river and groundwater contamination.
- Drought and changes in routine weather patterns are responsible for water depletion in some areas.
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