Within 20 Years, an Alarming Water Shortage

Demand will exceed supply by 40% in many countries
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2011 12:23 PM CST
Within 20 Years, an Alarming Water Shortage
In this Oct. 27, 2008 photo provided by Denver Water, the Antero Reservoir is seen in Park County, Colo.   (AP Photo/Denver Water)

The world is facing a vast water shortage within the next 20 years, say scientists who are gathering in Canada this week to talk about such things. In many countries, demand will exceed supply by 40%, leaving one-third of the planet's population with only half the water they require to meet their basic needs. Agriculture will also likely suffer, as it currently uses 71% of the water supply. To blame? Climate change and population growth, scientists say.

Focusing on simply increasing supply would cost around $200 billion per year, but this could be reduced to between $50 billion and $60 billion per year if demand is lowered at the same time, according to a water economist. That would require a different way of thinking: Consumers may not be aware that the production process for many common items uses up quite a bit of water, the Daily Mail reports. (Desktop computer: 396 gallons; a pair of jeans, up to 1,600 gallons.)

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