Water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink

Lorna Davis_63054

Blog by Lorna Davies, Voluntary Farmer-led Approach to Nutrient Management, Project Manager

Water scarcity is hitting the globe again. Last year Cape Town, this year Day Zero looms for Chennai in India, where taps will be turned off and access limited to emergency supplies. Here in the UK our issues contradict the global trend with excess flows affecting both urban and rural communities across the North East of England.

For eight consecutive years water has hit the top five risks in the World Economic Forums’ Global Risks Report as highlighted by 1,000 experts.

So why does water matter to us farmers?

As custodians of our environment the interconnectivity of changing weather patterns increasing environmental risk creates an increasingly complex challenge to our economic and societal resilience which farmers play a key part in resolving.

As quoted by Callie Stanson reporting in the Raconteur this week, ‘water cuts across most of today’s top risks; it’s the ultimate nexus issue’.

Looking ahead Wales’ position to maximise on this natural asset, manage risks to both quantity and quality and reward good practice to all sectors and society is fundamental to mitigating the global risks water faces.

Pressures on the water industry to provide ‘efficiency, resilience, innovation and customer service’ at a reduced cost is challenging industry to work with the World Water Innovation Fund globally to create new ways to help manage water resources.

This includes working with stakeholders such as agriculture in ways we have never done before, strategically managing water in a catchment scale to ensure squeezes on demand to supply industry and drinking water providers over agriculture doesn’t become an issue facing us in the future.

As the provision of safe drinking water is a human right, so should access to sustainably produced, nutritious food.

By 2025, 3.5 billion people will be living in water scarce regions across the globe. These regions include food producing nations currently stocking our shelves with tropical produce and out of season staples for the consumer’s basket.

Research undertaken by NASA has found that thirteen of the thirty seven most important ground water basins are depleting faster than they can be supplied. As aquifer recharge issues increase, so does the bigger threat for water scarcity of water quality impacting availability of supplies in regions such as China where 70% of ground water supplies are unfit for human contact.

Wales’ natural recharge system enables us, guided by water stewardship, to expand industry’s horizons, protecting our local ecosystems whilst addressing global pressures on water use. Water needs to be managed in partnership and collaboration, not by regulation and industries working in isolation.

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Last edited: 10:03 on 09 August 2019

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