Cities running out of water

My chapter ‘Cities running out of water’ in Sustainable Water Engineering edited by Susanne Charlesworth, Colin A. Booth, and Kemi Adeyeye has just been published. The chapter investigates the phenomenon of increasing water scarcity in cities such as Cape Town and explores what can be done about it. An abstract of the chapter is provided below.

The United Nations indicates that water scarcity now affects every continent. Many areas have reached the limit of local water services because water use has increased at twice the rate of population growth [43]. It is estimated that a quarter of the population of large cities, or over 38,155 million people, have water supplies that are under stress [24]. Major global cities (figure in bracket indicates population) such as Tokyo, Japan (36,933,000), Delhi, India (21,935,000), Mexico City Mexico (20,142,000), Shanghai China (19,554,000), Beijing, China (15,000,000), Kolkata, India (14,283,000), Karachi, Pakistan (13,500,000), Los Angeles, United States (13,223,000) and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (11,867,000) are now considered water-stressed [24]. These cities accommodate economic activity to the value of $4.8 trillion or 22 per cent of the global economic activity of large cities. However, despite its strategic importance, there are few studies on water stress in cities [24].

This chapter, therefore, explores water stress in cities. It aims to understand what happens when water becomes scarce, or runs out, in cities and describes the impact of this on government, business and communities. Reasons for temporary and long term water scarcity in cities are determined and described. Mechanisms to address water scarcity are identified and discussed to propose a simple framework that can be used to understand and address water scarcity in cities.

The book can be accessed here.