View Full Version : Water Scarcity: merged thread

04-30-2010, 08:01 AM
Moderator's Note

Thread re-named and several SWJ Blog links added. A strategic issue around the world, although the only articles appear to have a Middle East focus. (Ends).

I'll kick this off with a 29 April 2010 article from Aswat al Iraq regarding the Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources entitled: Iraq signs contract to implement water strategy with Italian companies (http://en.aswataliraq.info/?p=130968)

BAGHDAD / Aswat al-Iraq: Minister of Water Resources, Abdulatief Jamal Rashied, signed on Thursday implementing strategic study of Iraq’s water and lands resources contract with Italian SGI and MED companies at a cost of $35.8 million, according to a Ministry statement.

“The contract will be implemented within 42 months,” said the statement received by Aswat al-Iraq news agency.

“The long term study represents the future policy of the water situation in Iraq, as it includes a comprehensive plan to develop water resources in Iraq until 2035 through the integrated management of the water resources,” the statement quoted the minister as saying

A google search turns up a possible website for SGI (http://www.sgi-spa.it/ita/default.htm) which links to DFS Engineering website (http://www.dfs-engineering.com/home.htm)

DFS is an Italian engineering group providing highly qualified services on the international market. With the challenge of offering a broad range of capabilities, relationships and experience to provide efficient and environmentally sound technologies and sustainable solutions to our Client's needs, DFS merges together the competences of three leading Italian companies:

•D'Appolonia S.p.A., a major consulting engineering firm providing multi-disciplinary services to both public and private clients in the energy, environment, infrastructures, transportation and industry sectors.

•Favero e Milan Ingegneria Spa, a multidisciplinary firm qualified in the architectural and structural design of complex structures, from the conceiving and evaluative stage, to the financial evaluations of intervention, the control and the management of execution, up to the delivery of the finished work to the final client.

•SGI - Studio Galli Ingegneria S.p.A., a consulting firm leader in the application of innovative technologies ensuring the accomplishment of environmentally sustainable solutions while managing water resources and optimising the design, operation and management of water infrastructures.

A google search turns up a possible website for MED (http://www.medautomotive.it/en/company.html) which links to the Landi Renzo Group (http://www.ir.landi.it/home/index.php)

MED’s market position consolidates rapidly and in 2001 the company joins the Landi Renzo Group, the world’s leading manufacturer of CNG and LPG systems.

With renewed energy MED continues its growth in the field of Alternative Fuel Components: in 2003 with a high-quality CNG tank valve conceived for the OEM market, in 2004 starting the production of specific gas injectors featuring high-repeatability, while in 2007 the company introduces new electronic control units for the management of CNG and LPG driven engines.

01-03-2011, 12:18 AM
CSIS, 13 Dec 10: Clear Gold: Water as a Strategic Resource in the Middle East (http://csis.org/files/publication/101213_Alterman_ClearGold_web.pdf)

...The Middle East’s water problem grew out of its successes. The “green revolution” that swept the Middle East in the 1980s and 1990s made it possible for countries to sustain agriculture and feed growing populations, and high levels of agricultural investment continue today. In general, however, countries have focused too much on ensuring water supply and not enough on tamping demand.

Groundwater depletion will have a range of consequences for how Middle Eastern governments function and manage relationships with the governed. Migration will be one major problem, as populations dependent on agriculture find they can no longer make a living in rural environments. Political alienation will pose another challenge. As part of a system of agricultural patronage, water use is often a point of pride among certain populations or elites, who see it as a sign of their government’s favor. When groundwater runs out, it could challenge these perceptions—and the stability to which they contribute.....

SWJ Blog
12-28-2011, 09:54 AM
Nile Basin Conflict: Perspectives on Water Sharing, Food Shortages, Civil Wars and Terrorism (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/nile-basin-conflict-perspectives-on-water-sharing-food-shortages-civil-wars-and-terrorism)

Entry Excerpt:

Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/nile-basin-conflict-perspectives-on-water-sharing-food-shortages-civil-wars-and-terrorism) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).
This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

SWJ Blog
04-19-2012, 04:11 PM
Water and Sanitation: Decisive Effects in Modern Operations (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/water-and-sanitation-decisive-effects-in-modern-operations)

Entry Excerpt:

Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/water-and-sanitation-decisive-effects-in-modern-operations) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).
This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

SWJ Blog
09-28-2012, 10:05 AM
Water Security Conflicts: A Regional Perspective (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/water-security-conflicts-a-regional-perspective)

Entry Excerpt:

Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/water-security-conflicts-a-regional-perspective) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).
This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

10-26-2012, 11:28 PM
A short ORG primer on this issue, which opens with:
Climate change is likely to remain the major factor behind water insecurity over the coming decades.... a number of ‘virtual’ factors, ranging from industrial-scale production to perceptions of scarcity, may also contribute to water conflicts in the near to mid-term.


It also cites a US NIC report:
During the next 10 years, water problems will contribute to instability in states important to US national security interests. Water shortages, poor water quality, and floods by themselves are unlikely to result in state failure. However, water problems – when combined with poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership, and weak political institutions – contribute to social disruptions that can result in state failure.

12-09-2012, 04:33 PM
An interesting commentary, although the conclusion is rather strong. Anyway it starts with:
Under the radar of the Western world, China has patiently established its influence among Africa's emerging powerhouses, setting its sights on the continent's most contested resource: The Nile River. Amidst the decline of Egypt and the rise of Ethiopia, China has managed to manipulate a long-brewing conflict between Africa's two major powers to its benefit, slowly replacing the West as the continent's new kingmaker.

In recent months, China has ruffled feathers from Lake Victoria to Alexandria with its aggressive funding and building of dams in Ethiopia, a likewise aggressive contender for regional hegemony.

It ends with:
Recognizing the potential of the world's most truly valuable resource, China has assumed a dominant role in African affairs for years to come. As Bejing's new leadership has keenly understood, the ability to foment and mediate conflicts in Africa's vital Nile River Basin will put China on the fast-track to global leadership. With Egypt in decline and Ethiopia on the rise, the West's options for tipping the scales back in their favor are drying up.


How funding new dams enables global leadership eludes me, nor has the West been dominant in Africa for a long time. China's track record in Africa is very mixed, although I do concede much of the past was state-led and now the state plays a different, lesser role.

12-10-2012, 03:08 AM
Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting...:wry:


A good place to start when considering the topic of water availability and management is the formulation of a water budget ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrology_(agriculture) ). Napkin math - rough order of magnitude - followed by some consideration regarding data, (availability, quality, limitations, bias ), analysis ( all models are wrong but some are useful), scale ( irrigation channel, river basin?), and purpose.

When a Green Revolution Runs Out of Water, By DAVID AGREN, December 5, 2012, 7:58 am, Green - A Blog About Energy and the Environment, http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/05/when-a-green-revolution-runs-out-of-water/

CIUDAD OBREGN, MexicoThe Green Revolution sprang forth from this valley of wheat farms in Sonora State, producing the food required to feed a rapidly expanding population. But the water that has nourished crops here for decades and sustained the Yaqui people for centuries is threatened.

The federal and Sonora State governments are building an aqueduct to take water from the Yaqui River to supply the mushrooming manufacturing hub of Hermosillo, 175 miles south of the Arizona border at Nogales. There, burgeoning automotive and aerospace industries and a booming population have put demands on water destined for agricultural purposes.

The aqueduct itself has pitted industrial interests and politicians against previously privileged farmers and the Yaqui.

Several researchers at the Colegio de Sonora, while not endorsing the aqueduct or water management practices in Hermosillo, say the Yaqui Valley farmers are using water for unproductive activities like growing durum wheat, for which the Mexican market is limited, and derive their profits from subsidies.

e360 digest, 20 NOV 2012: U.S.-MEXICO REACH ACCORD ON SHARING COLORADO RIVER WATER, http://e360.yale.edu/digest/us-mexico_reach_accord_on_sharing_colorado_river_wate r/3701/

The U.S. and Mexico have reached an agreement on how to share water from the Colorado River, a five-year deal crafted to help both nations prepare for future droughts. Under the agreement, regional water agencies in California, Arizona, and Nevada will purchase nearly 100,000 acre-feet of water from Mexicos share of the river, enough to cover 200,000 households for a year. In return, Mexico will receive $10 million to repair damage along hundreds of miles of irrigation canals caused by a 2010 earthquake repairs that will bring thousands of acres of farmland back into production, according to the Los Angeles Times. The U.S. will also promise to buy additional water and allow it to flow to the delta south of the border, a region that has seen reduced water flow in recent years as U.S. water demands upstream have increased. In addition, Mexico will agree to take lesser water during periods of drought, but will be allowed to keep some of its water in Lake Mead, the vast reservoir that straddles Nevada and Arizona, providing badly needed storage capacity.

Ideas for Colorado River Include a Feeder Pipeline, By FELICITY BARRINGER, Published: December 9, 2012, NYT, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/10/science/earth/federal-plans-for-colorado-river-include-pipeline.html?ref=science

The federal government has come up with dozens of ways to enhance the diminishing flow of the Colorado River, which has long struggled to keep seven states and roughly 25 million people hydrated.

Among the proposals in a report by the Bureau of Reclamation, parts of which leaked out in advance of its expected release this week, are traditional solutions to water shortages, like decreasing demand through conservation and increasing supply through reuse or desalination projects.

But also in the mix, and expected to remain in the final draft of the report, is a more extreme and contentious approach. It calls for building a pipeline from the Missouri River to Denver, nearly 600 miles to the west. Water would be doled out as needed along the route in Kansas, with the rest ultimately stored in reservoirs in the Denver area.

Water Wars Pit Dakotas Against Barges for Missouri Flow, By Alan Bjerga - Dec 5, 2012 11:42 AM MT, Bloomberg News, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-05/water-wars-pit-thirsty-dakotas-against-barges-for-missouri-flow.html

Time is running short. The Army Corps said it would report back to the lawmakers this week as the usual Midwest dry season, combined with the region’s worst drought since 1956, is projected to push Mississippi levels so low shipping would have to be halted in a section near the river’s midpoint south of St. Louis. At risk are 20,000 jobs and $130 million in wages and benefits if the river is closed for two months, the American Waterways Operators, a lobbying group based in Arlington, Virginia, estimates.

If the Army Corps does decide to release more water, shippers say it would take two weeks for the increased flow to reach the parched portions of the Mississippi, which the Missouri joins near St. Louis.

The fight over whether the Missouri should be used to shore up a dry Mississippi looks very different upstream. The barge traffic that dominates debates downriver doesn’t exist. Hydropower, recreation -- and, in recent years, supplying a boom in hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas that’s given North Dakota the lowest U.S. unemployment rate -- all require the Missouri’s water.

Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization, Steven Solomon, http://books.google.com/books/about/Water.html?id=_RZb0qUzRrgC

Far more than oil, the control of water wealth throughout history has been pivotal to the rise and fall of great powers, the achievements of civilization, the transformations of society's vital habitats, and the quality of ordinary daily lives. In Water, Steven Solomon offers the first-ever narrative portrait of the power struggles, personalities, and breakthroughs that have shaped humanity from antiquity's earliest civilizations, the Roman Empire, medieval China, and Islam's golden age to Europe's rise, the steam-powered Industrial Revolution, and America's century. Today, freshwater scarcity is one of the twenty-first century's decisive, looming challenges and is driving the new political, economic, and environmental realities across the globe.

12-10-2012, 04:16 AM
Salt: A World History, by Mark Kurlansky, http://books.google.com/books/about/Salt.html?id=kK7ec92n5x8C

The story of salt encompasses fields as disparate as engineering, religion, and food, all of which Kurlansky richly explores. Few endeavors have inspired more ingenuity than salt making, from the natural gas furnaces of ancient China to the drilling techniques that led to the age of petroleum, and salt revenues have funded some of the greatest public works in history, including the Erie Canal, and even cities (Syracuse, New York). Salt's ability to preserve and to sustain life has made it a metaphorical symbol in all religions. Just as significantly, salt has shaped the history of foods like cheese, sauerkraut, olives, and more, and Kurlansky, an award-winning food writer, conveys how they have in turn molded civilization and eating habits the world over.

The Conquest of Nature: Water, Landscape, and the Making of Modern Germany, by David Blackbourn, http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Conquest_of_Nature.html?id=4eRajSprR-cC

The fascinating story of how the German landscape was dramatically reshaped in the two hundred years from Frederick the Great to Adolf Hitler. It illustrates the gains as well as the human and environmental price paid.

09-10-2013, 10:18 PM
How many remember reading, somewhere starting in the 1980s, that "we'd be fighting over water in the 21st century?"

Game changer for East Africa?

A massive aquifer that holds enough water to meet all of Kenya's needs for 70 years has been discovered, ITV News can reveal.


09-12-2013, 08:47 PM
Sure, but in the long term, this probably doesn't change the equation that much, since what's likely to happen is that we'll outsource some of our water intensive industries down there, the Kenyans will make money, their economy and population will boom, and at some point their water will run out.

09-25-2013, 08:32 PM
From a longer post on the David Kilcullen thread.

Water supply was one issue and he cited Syria as an example. Syria, with an expanding population for several years had issues over water supply, so much that water rationing applied in most cities. This was aggravated in 2010 with a drought in the south-east, which pushed more people into the cities and in 2011 two of those cities were where the protests began.

I've not heard of this before; no doubt it is fully explained in the book, but if anyone can add please do.

09-26-2013, 04:22 PM
As if by magic - a tweet from the BBC's World Service (west African reporter) Thomas Fessy:
Mini demos and riots in #Dakar last night sparked by 2-week long water cut.

Nothing on BBC News website.

09-28-2013, 04:45 PM
Anger and dismay in Dakar. The water is off for two weeks because of a network failure distribution station Keur Momar Sarr 200 km from the capital. Not a drop of water in the taps and some people are affected by floods.

A little more on this French report:http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20130928-le-manque-eau-potable-fait-monter-colere-dakar

08-19-2014, 06:41 PM
West’s historic drought stokes fears of water crisis (http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/wests-historic-drought-stokes-fears-of-water-crisis/2014/08/17/d5c84934-240c-11e4-958c-268a320a60ce_story.html)

In still other areas, aquifers are emptying so quickly that the land itself is subsiding, like cereal in a bowl after the milk has drained out.

“How many straws can you stick into one glass?” asked John Viegas, a county supervisor who, after months of fielding complaints from constituents about water shortages, recently was forced to lower his own well by 40 feet. “People need to realize you can’t water everything.”


“A well-managed basin is used like a reserve bank account,” Howitt said. “We’re acting like the super rich who have so much money they don’t need to balance their checkbook.”

It is worth to point out that those aquifers have been formed in many, many years.

Yet, agriculture’s huge appetite for water makes it an easy target for state officials looking for ways to conserve. Irrigation accounts for 41 percent of the state’s water use, compared with 9 percent for urban water systems. And the recent shift to crops such as alfalfa and rice has prompted questions about whether this drought-prone region is suited for water-intensive agriculture.

Looks like a classic market failure with water not being priced nearly high enough with most of the public infrastructure effectively subventioning the farmers heavily. This gave bad incentives and resulted in high private investments into the wrong crops/assets.

Now of course California Water Prices Soar for Farmers as Drought Grows (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-07-24/california-water-prices-soar-for-farmers-as-drought-grows.html).

Farmers in California’s Central Valley, the world’s most productive agricultural region, are paying as much as 10 times more for water than they did before the state’s record drought cut supply.

Costs have soared to $1,100 per acre-foot from about $140 a year ago in the Fresno-based Westlands Water District, which represents 700 farms, said Gayle Holman, a spokeswoman. North of Sacramento, the Western Canal Water District is selling it for double the usual price: $500 per acre-foot, about 326,000 gallons (1.2 million liters).

Last but not least a key Californian advantage over many other areas:

Lund said he believes Californians are more capable of adjusting, compared with people in other water-challenged parts of the world, because they already possess experience and expertise and “because we happen to be rich, which helps.”

06-07-2018, 09:55 AM
A short 10 mins video explains 'Day Zero':
Early this year, the South African government announced that Day Zero was looming – a moment, after three years of unprecedented drought, when dam levels would be so low that taps would be turned off and people would have to fetch water at communal collection points.

After taking remedial measures, Capetonians managed to push back the date of Day Zero until next year. We visited the city to find out how the threat of an apocalyptic disaster has changed lives.

There is only one reference to why the reservoirs are now 20% full and that it is the richer suburbs which have had to adjust the most - the townships may have 25% of the population, but use 4% of the water.

10-10-2018, 02:09 AM
Yemen is gripped by civil war—and some experts say it could be the first of many “water wars” to come, as the planet grows hotter and drier. In This Is the Way the World Ends: How Droughts and Die-Offs, Heat Waves and Hurricanes Are Converging on America, Jeff Nesbit writes of the Yemeni conflict and many other geopolitical consequences of a warming world, including the precarious future of the Indus River, under the control of China, India and Pakistan, and why Saudi Arabia’s biggest dairy company is buying farmland in the Arizona desert.

Soundcloud link to the whole shebang here -> https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/will-world-war-three-be-fought-over-water/?utm_source=Weekly+Newsletter+List&utm_campaign=544f457e2a-NEWSLETTER_2018_01_08_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_10d8eab927-544f457e2a-53934117

10-10-2018, 07:18 AM
Reminded yesterday about the impending, if not current drought in Southern Iraq; alas that article is behind a pay-wall. Instead there is this BBC report after rioting in Basra:https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-middle-east-45626170/water-shortages-fuel-ongoing-protests-in-basra-iraq

There are a couple of earlier reports too:https://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2018/08/iraq-farmers-hit-hard-water-shortages-180802193258236.html and http://www.bayancenter.org/en/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/980987665.pdf