Water Crisis and Risk Management


Water is one of the basic needs of the life on earth. It is consumed by human beings, animals for their survival and plants and agricultural products for their growth. Supplying adequate and /or potable water to the global population is the biggest task in the wake of growing industrial and domestic needs (Villholth 2007). The available water resources are becoming polluted due to various reasons such as pollution of water resources through improper and uncontrolled waste disposal, over-exploitation and misuse of water resources, improper and inadequate water resources management, improper coordination among the various agencies involved ranging from macro to micro scale, rapid urbanization, inadequate sanitation system, deposition of air pollutants, transport and leakages of pollutants in biosphere, leachate flow from uncontrolled solid waste dumpsites, and drainage from aquaculture farms. Water shortage is resulting in inadequate water supply and poor quality water supply and has led into problems among the members involved with.

Importance of addressing water crisis

Water crisis is an important area to be addressed as it is the worlds biggest problem affecting many lives. Globally, many people are suffering from lack of enough and pure fresh water. World’s water problems are significantly getting worse each day, and the world financial and credit issue is merely one reason why. Another reason is the ever growing modernization of the worlds major towns that leads to high demand for water, while polluting it at the same time. Furthermore, other parts of the world are also suffering from drought to an extent of it being declared a state of emergency. For instance, some parts of United States is experiencing drought, which has to the California Governor Arnold to declare a state of emergency recently because of the state has been suffering water crisis for now three years. Therefore, because of water crisis, a lot of money is being spent to rescue the lives of those people dying from lack of water.Unfortunatelly, nothing much is being done to rectify this issue despite the fact that water crisis has many negative issues on the country such as diseases, reduction on the economy and decrease in agricultural products (Zdzisław 1996).

The major risks of water crisis

According to Garrick (2003) a half of the people in the world are likely to suffer directly from a world water crisis within the coming forty five years. Water is most likely to be the biggest natural resource issue challenging most parts of the world. The world is not running out of water and it is not an existential risk. The risk is from inadequate conservation, distribution and quality of potable water, and pollution of freshwater and marine environments that impact ecosystems, food supplies, and human health. This is a problem that will worsen gradually over a period of years, and the problem is real and serious. According to the report by the United Nations, its estimated that about five million people are currently threatened by severe water shortages, and that this number is likely to rise up to five billion by the year 2050.For instance, Mexico City is consuming its underground water faster than it can be replaced.

Water crisis is also a political risk especially when a particular country puts restrictions on water consumption by other countries. For example, different countries like Congo and Gambia get most of their pure water from the river flow of hostile upstream countries. Syria and Iraq receive their pure water from the Tigris Rivers, which flow down from turkey. Unfortunately, turkey has proposed a series of dams that would decrease river flow; therefore, this water shortage is likely to cause political issues among these nations (Sullivan 2006).

Water crisis also results into paying more for less. Water has naturally been provided for free, cheaply, and it has been readily available. Sadly, the least expensive water source s are now being depleted, polluted, and world population and water demand is rising up very fast ,making water to be scarce leading to paying pay more for less.

Another major risk from water crisis is the health cost. This is the most common water related cost which is from the sickness and death. The related costs of sickness and death from water pollution are enormous, but because they are often borne by people with little or no market or political power, those in power and who manage water do not pay sufficient attention to these costs. Therefore, as the burden of such sickness and death affects mostly the poorer members of society, the cost as a proportion of their income is much higher than it would be in the developed world.

The global increase in water crisis is mostly likely to affect the economic status of many nations. The use of water sustainably provides sustainable economic benefits through good health and income generating activities, such as food production. Conversely, unsustainable water use imposes costs through health problems and reduced production leading to a decline in income. For example, in Aral Sea basin, the environmentally unsustainable use of freshwater resources for agricultural irrigation has led into a decreased lake water levels and quality severely. As a result, this had led into collapse of the fishing industry. Furthermore, the inefficient use of irrigation water in the semi-arid Areas led to Stalinization and a subsequent decline I agricultural production. Serious human health problems have occurred with wind blown dust contaminated by agricultural chemical residues.

There is also ecosystem cost risks, which occur as a result of water crisis. While pollution and excess water withdrawals cause significant damage to ecosystems in many areas in the world, which can be quantified in physical terms, it is very difficult to carry out calculations concerning the monetary value of such damages. For instance, reduction in fishing can be valued, because there is direct link between ecosystems and human income. In addition, health cost and productive effects from pollution related illness can also be approximated easily. However, decline in biodiversity is far harder to value. Therefore, these effects and cost occur, and sooner or later, reduce the goods and services that water provides to human. Hence, they have to be included in a political will to address the issues including corruption and inefficiency.

How the risks are being addressed

Both the quantity and quality of the available water are the critical aspects to handle the present and /or the future risks of water crisis. Proper treatment and disposal of wastewater are essential to sustain the ecological balance. Thus, measures to replenish the available water resources have been administered.These measures include river basin management and water conservation options that leads to the increase to the life of available water on earth. All these aspects are properly planned for and monitored regularly through the use of a comprehensive water resources planning approach. This approach is used from the conception, planning, designing, construction, and operation of facilities to control and utilize water with the national objectives of improving the quality of life of the people.

Another measure taken to address the risks of water crisis is through creating different departments to ensure the supply of the required water in different areas. For instance, water requirement for domestic, commercial and industrial sectors is planned for by the town planning sector. This is achieved through putting into consideration the population growth aspects and estimating water requirement factors. Also thorough survey is frequently administered with corporation from the respective departments like ground water department to check the availability of quantity and quality of the water. The information collected is often updated for planning purposes as stated by Sahuquillo (2005, p.90).

Risks from water crisis are also addressed through the provision of satisfactory treatment and supply of water as a way to meet public satisfaction. The provision of quality water by respective departments such as domestic, industrial, agricultural among others results into socio-economic development in the area, which leads to migration of population to the area causing the growth of several opportunities in the area for a prospective and healthy life (Russ 2009).

How these risks can be managed on an ongoing basis

Globally, and particularly areas with scarce water resources, management of water resources is an issue because through sustainable use of this resource, many risks occurring from water crisis such as health problems, economic difficulties, and ecosystem problems are eliminated or reduced on an ongoing basis. Therefore, for proper management of this risks, development of capacity expansion in situ, redistributing of the existing water resources, emphasizing on the efficiency use of water resources, and water quality management will help to a large extent (Gupta 2008). To achieve this, emphasizes should be made on the importance of determining the existing and future demand of water resources, rational water use, comprehensive observation and assessment, effective supervision and provision of the necessary conditions for protection of related structures. If this is taken into consideration, emphasis is given to supply water in sufficient quantity and quality at the right time and place, relocating water according to certain priority among sectors, conjure use of surface and groundwater resources and environmental factors (Molden 2007).

In cases of water scarcity, creation of dams and reservoirs play a major part in a sustainable management of finite water resources (Gleick 1993). This is especially applicable to arid and semi-arid area, which for their economic development and population growth; they will definitely require dams and reservoirs for irrigation purposes and hydropower.

Processes used for monitoring and evaluation

Specifying the risk concept in water supply systems is one f the processes that should be put in place. According to Garrick (2001, p.345) in water supply systems, drought is characterized by a high level of complexity. Risk in water supply techniques is directly associated with water scarcity, which is different from drought because it is linked to a shortage of water availability to meet human demands. Risk evaluation in water supply techniques comprises carrying out identification process on demands that may not be fully met with availability of water resources. It is not economically effective to satisfy at a hundred percent all the need in an area, because the expenses would be too high. Therefore, a set of practice indices, trying to calculate different aspects linked to ideas such as reliability and vulnerability, is used.According to Cubillo(2009,p.456) the availability in similar cases of many conflicting needs and the uncertainty associated with the real impacts of high events like droughts, make the risk assessment of water supply tools a problem that is better tackled through various indices by analyzing the probabilities of shortages of different entities (Cubillo 2009). Complexity of risk assessment in water supply needs simulation of the system to describe out by means of appropriate mathematical models. To achieve this, water demand to average inflow ratios should be considered.

Another process to be put in place is analyzing the acceptable risk rates, which is maintained by available water resources and infrastructures and rely on demand characteristics. According to Cortina (2006, p. 34) the risk analysis here should aim at the probability of not meeting the needs, and the period when the failures occur, and economic management during water scarcity. These factors determine the operational rules for system management during water scarcity. In regulated systems, supply of water capacity is based on operational rules and risk management measures.Relialbility is analyzed according to the place of the risk management unit. Up stream units need to consider also the risk of down stream units.

Numerous natural indicator of water scarcity should be monitored periodically to determine the onset of the water scarcity, end and spatial characteristics. Severity must also be evaluated on frequent time steps (Crouhy 1998).

It’s the business responsibility to deal with these risks

Water crisis has many implications on business, therefore, business sectors are doing their best to ensure that water quality and quantity is at the right level or even increased through application of different measures to achieve their goal. Limited water can affect business, provision of raw materials, and the use of products in various manners. For instance, declines or distractions in water supply may reduce industrial and processing operations where water is needed for the production, manufacturing of materials, and cleaning practices (Cosgrove 2000). Therefore, business sectors have a responsibility to ensure that that water crisis risks are dealt with accordingly and at the right time for their businesses to prosper to higher levels without interruptions during manufacturing and production period.

Business has the responsibility to ensure that water crisis risks are reduced because these risks often lead to financial impacts. For instance, poor water quality results into additional investment and operational expenses for the pre-treatment and this affects the financial status of the business (Christie 2008).Limited water affects the precipitation pattern, which may affect hydro-based power production and any other power plant that runs steam turbine, as a result, less power is produced and the industrys financial status declines. For power to be generated there must be enough supply of cooling water. Therefore, businesses that rely on the energy from this power generating sources may be a high risk as there is no power due to water scarcity (Bauer 2010).

Decrease in availability and quality of water may lead to arise in competition for clean water causing tensions between businesses and the community especially in the developing countries. Communities may oblige to industrial water withdrawals and thus making the businesses to be affected significantly. Therefore, companies in different businesses need to take full responsibility in eradicating water crisis and the risks related to it for their businesses to proceed on well as required by various investors.


Always considered a classic renewable resource, after a hundred thousand years of farming and industrialization, rivers in many parts of the world are running dry and the ground water is also being overpumped.Thus, the rate at which water sources are becoming contaminated with human waste, industrial waste, and agriculture is at an alarming rate. Water crisis therefore, occurs from the insufficient use of water resources leading to its scarcity in many nations. In order to avoid transboundary conflicts concerning water use, involving every person who has an interest in a fair and orderly decision making procedures should lead to mutual problem solving instead of fighting among different interest groups.Therefore, in order to overcome this issue of water crisis, both the government and respective organizations and department should join hand and effort in creating public awareness on the sustainable use of water resource. Industries should take responsibility in ensuring that they provide water treatment exercises since they are the major causes of water pollution.

Reference list

Bauer, O 2010, Interstate Water Resource Risk Management: Towards A Sustainable Future for the Aral Basin, USA, IWA Publishing.

Christie, R 2008, Quantifying and controlling catastrophic risks, Harvard, Academic Press.

Cosgrove, W 2000, World water vision: making water everybody’s business, Chicago, Earthscan.

Cortina, M 2006, Water crisis: myth or reality, NewYork, Taylor and Francis.

Crouhy, M 1998, Sustainability criteria for water resource systems, USA, ASCE Publications.

Cubillo, F 2009, coping with Drought Risk in Agriculture and Water Supply Systems: Drought Management and Policy Development in the Mediterranean, India, Press.

Garrick, J 2001, Risk management, New York, McGraw-Hill.

Gleick, P 1993, Water in crisis: a guide to the world’s fresh water resources, USA, Oxford University Press.

Gupta, R 2008, Water Crisis in India, USA, Atlantic.

Molden, D 2007, Water for food, water for life: a comprehensive assessment of water Management in agriculture, Chicago, Earth scan.

Russ, P 2009, Water Crisis, Yale, The Rosen Publishing Group.

Sahuquillo, A 2005, Groundwater intensive use: selected papers, NewYork, Taylor and Francis.

Sullivan, G 2006, Risk Management: Safeguarding Company Assets, New York, Sullivan.

Villholth, K 2007, Agricultural groundwater revolution: opportunities and threats to Development, Chicago, CABI.

Zdzisław, K 1996, Water resources management in the face of climatic/hydrologic Uncertainties, New York, Springer.

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