Changing Planet

Are We Running Out of Water?

Photo: Dry river near Darcha in India
A dry river near Darcha in India. Ankit Solanki, Flickr Creative Commons


Early in 2001, the Rio Grande River failed to reach the Gulf of Mexico for the first time.

With that nefarious event the Rio Grande joined a growing list of once-mighty rivers that are running dry from overuse:  the Colorado River in the U.S., the Yaqui in Mexico, the Indus in Pakistan, the Ganges in Bangladesh, the Yellow and Tarim in China, and the Murray in Australia, along with many other rivers large and small.

Not surprisingly, fisheries in these once-bountiful rivers have crashed.  After all, fish do need water.

We’ve tapped underground water sources pretty heavily as well.  The water level in the Ogallala Aquifer in the Midwestern U.S. has dropped more than 150 feet in some places, leaving many farmers’ wells bone dry.

As water is sucked out of aquifers, the overlying soil and rock can compact or collapse into the dewatered void, causing tall buildings to teeter in Mexico City, automobiles to tumble into sinkholes in Florida, or swallowing tourists on the fringes of the shriveling Dead Sea in Israel and Jordan.

With so many rivers, lakes and aquifers going dry, we have to ask:  Are we running out of water?

The Big Picture

 The glass-half-full answer is no……. at least not at the planetary level.  Today there is just as much water on the planet as there was when the first signs of life appeared.

Every year, about 110,000 billion cubic meters of water falls on the land surface of our planet as rain or snow.  That annual endowment of water would cover all land to nearly a meter deep if it was spread evenly.

More than half of all of that water evaporates quickly or gets taken up by trees, shrubs, and grass.

More than a third flows out to the coasts, where it helps to maintain the delicate salt- and freshwater balance of estuaries, without which much of our seafood industry would collapse.

Of all the water falling on land, we’re consuming less than 10% to grow our crops, supply our homes, keep our industries running, and generate electricity.

Every bit of the water that falls on land or in the ocean or is used for human endeavors is eventually evaporated back up into the sky as water vapor, replenishing our planet’s never-ending freshwater cycle.  No water is actually ‘lost’ in that global cycle.

So what’s the problem?  Surely we can’t be in trouble if we’re depleting less than 10% of the Earth’s naturally renewable water, and the water cycle keeps bringing that water back year after year?

Here’s the catch:  the water that falls from the sky isn’t evenly distributed around the globe, and our needs for that water aren’t the same everywhere.

So why can’t we just move water from places of abundance to places of shortage?  Why can’t we take the fresh water flowing to the Arctic Circle and redirect it to the parched cities of the American Southwest?

Such plans have been on the drawing boards of big water dreamers for decades.  In truth, the only thing that has stopped these initiatives is the fact that far less costly alternatives usually exist for meeting our water needs in the near term.  We only have to look to the South-North Water Transfer Project in China for a bellwether of what may come.  The Chinese will invest $62 billion to build a pipe-and-canal system to move water over hundreds of kilometers from the Yangtze River to parched cities and farms in the north.  As the New York Times reported last year, “It would be like channeling water from the Mississippi River to meet the drinking needs of Boston, New York and Washington.”

But here’s another catch:  Even if we could move water over great distances in a cost-effective manner, it takes a tremendous amount of energy to do so.  Nearly 20% of all electricity used in California – whose statewide plumbing system is reminiscent of a Rube Goldberg design – is spent moving water around.  The energy required to move water – and its associated carbon emissions — is not inconsequential in the efforts to arrest climate change.  Until we have abundant clean energy sources to power such re-plumbing of the planet’s water sources, we should not be investing in them.

And yet one more important consideration:  We should be careful about ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul.’ As we dry up a river or lake to harvest or export its water, the health of fish populations and natural freshwater ecosystems plummet.  In virtually all of the large rivers that have begun to go dry, fisheries have been decimated, leading to severe hardship for local people that depend upon that food source for their subsistence and livelihoods.  Last year, I published a journal paper with colleagues at The Nature Conservancy that suggested that depletion of a freshwater source by more than 20% will likely have harmful ecological and social consequences.

The conclusion that should be drawn from all of this:  we need to take stock of our local water sources and manage them wisely.  As my water colleagues like to say, that “All politics — and water — are local.”


This map portrays the number of months each year in which the depletion of water for human uses is greater than 20% of the naturally-renewable water supply in rivers, lakes and aquifers (based on averages from 1996-2005). More than half of the more than 400 water basins analyzed are experiencing water scarcity during some part of the year. From Hoekstra et al. 2012

Taking Stock of the World’s Local Water Accounts

 Nearly half of all the water that falls on land ends up in a river, lake, or aquifer before being used or flowing out to sea.   We can think of these freshwater sources as individual water accounts.  Some examples: the Colorado River basin, the Great Lakes basin, and the Ogallala Aquifer.

But unlike money accounts, it is untenable to move large volumes of water from account to account.  Therefore, it only makes sense to pay close attention to the balance in our local water accounts.

When managing these water accounts, it is quite helpful to think of them in much the same way as you think about your personal bank account: over the course of the year, you make some deposits and you take out some withdrawals.  If you continuously take out more than you deposit, you’re headed for trouble.

The bankruptcy of our unsustainable water use can be measured in the drying of rivers and the drawing down of aquifers.  In many river basins and aquifers we are taking out more than is deposited by rain or snow.

Until recently, we have not had a decent balance sheet or map to tell us how our water accounts were doing.

The map above is a good first measure of how much water is being depleted from our global water stocks.

This recently published map is a fruit of the labors of an Ethiopian PhD student named Mesfin Mekonnen and his mentor, Arjen Hoekstra at the University of Twente in The Netherlands. (disclosure: I was a small-bit co-author on the paper that included this map). To produce this map, Mekonnen and Hoekstra calculated how much of the water in each freshwater source was being depleted by agriculture, industry, and domestic uses.  They then compared the volume of water being depleted with the amount of water flowing into rivers, lakes, and aquifers each year.  For any month of the year in which the cumulative water depletion exceeds 20% of the water falling from the sky, they flagged as being “moderately water scarce.”  The map shows how many months are determined to be water scarce in each of more than 400 river basins globally.

An important conclusion from this study:  in nearly half of the water basins evaluated, more than 40% of the renewable water supply is already being depleted.

As with any map depicting global conditions, this one surely has its inaccuracies.  Better data are available in many locales, which can reveal a more accurate reading of the status of local rivers, lakes and aquifers.  But with this study, Mekonnen and Hoekstra have finally given us an initial answer to what may be the most pressing question of our time:

How much water is left?

Brian Richter has been a global leader in water science and conservation for more than 25 years. He is the Chief Scientist for the Global Water Program of The Nature Conservancy, an international conservation organization, where he promotes sustainable water use and management with governments, corporations, and local communities. He is also the President of Sustainable Waters, a global water education organization. Brian has consulted on more than 120 water projects worldwide. He serves as a water advisor to some of the world’s largest corporations, investment banks, and the United Nations, and has testified before the U.S. Congress on multiple occasions. He also teaches a course on Water Sustainability at the University of Virginia. Brian has developed numerous scientific tools and methods to support river protection and restoration efforts, including the Indicators of Hydrologic Alteration software that is being used by water managers and scientists worldwide. Brian was featured in a BBC documentary with David Attenborough on “How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth?” He has published many scientific papers on the importance of ecologically sustainable water management in international science journals, and co-authored a book with Sandra Postel entitled Rivers for Life: Managing Water for People and Nature (Island Press, 2003). His new book, Chasing Water: A Guide for Moving from Scarcity to Sustainability, was published by Island Press in June 2014.
  • Miles Amblish

    A good article which askes an interesting question and provides additional information. However, it leaves the effects of human activity out of the equation. How is that water being used: people are using that water. Its not bad weather, climate change or aliens that’s consuming the water but a growing human populating in numbers larger than the can be sustained by the amount of available water in a region. The amount of available water can be increased through the use of energy (for things like de-salination plants) and technology (for things like water pipelines). When the population in those areas grow far beyond these measures to compensate then difficult decisions will have to be made.

  • […] Are We Running Out of Water? […]

  • Rob

    Next time you buy a drink or worse, bottled water, ask yourself where did that water come from? We need to take more responsibility and quit buying water altogether.

  • sprindleberry

    For the last two years most of the Eastern States in Australia, including Queensland , NSW and SA have been suffering severe flooding, destroying much property and stock. Many people have been drowned in some areas. A new desalination plant is obsolete. So the map is out of date at this moment.

  • Joan DeSimone

    The Natural Gas Industry is wasting over billions of gallons of fresh water daily to use for extracting gas. in The process commonly known as Fracking. There commercials speak of the clean green energy and its a total lie. It pollutes air, water, kills animals , poisons families. Destroys the natural environment. And most importantly is using up this precious natural resource that we cannot live without. Water…………..

  • Keith Malone

    The way I read the California Energy Commission report referred to in this article is that involves not just the transport of water, but the cleaning of water, too.

  • Colin Megson

    Any State or region having to invest in power generation and considering coal-fired or nuclear (PWR) installations, will have to site them near a large source of fresh water, to condense the steam from the steam turbines. This waste heat is useless low temperature heat which is just dumped and, in the process, uses up significant quantities of fresh water.

    The powers that be, should be aware of a nuclear technology which uses gas turbines to drive the electricity generators. The ‘waste’ heat from gas turbines is high temperature and capable of producing potable water from desalination plants free-of-charge – you get twice as much bang for your bucks!

    See a couple of postings on this blog: and

  • abebo watkins

    there are some factual errors here. for instance, the total amount of water has changed over earth’s history — a recent PNAS paper suggests a decline of about 30 percent of the past few billion years (the paper says this amount is constant). also, what is more important than the amount of water in total is the amount of freshwater versus saltwater — this ratio changes quite a bit. for instance, as recently as 18,000 years ago, much of the the mid to high latitudes of north america, europe, and asia were covered in several miles/kilometers of ice and sea levels were hundreds of meters lower. there was much more freshwater then than now, though much of that water was frozen. we are in a relatively warm, dry period. and of course, climate change is altering this balance between fresh and salt water balances. finally, the stats about water falling on the earth’s surface is quite wrong, since the author assumes that this amount is falling on the terrestrial surface of the planet — most of the precip that falls is on the ocean, which occupies most of the surface of the planet.

    the biggest point the author seems to miss is that the water balance is changing as a result of both human use and climate change, and some of these changes are quite rapid and dramatic and more interesting, really, than just a loss of water. in some areas, there is too much water, or water at the wrong time. and in others, shifts in climate and human use are leading to very sudden drops in water.

  • Brian Richter

    Dear Abebo Watkins,
    I’m anxious to see that PNAS paper suggesting that there is 30% less water on the planet now. Your point about the balance between fresh and salt water in the global water cycle is a good one, although of course in the time frame of interest to modern society the real issue — which I tried to emphasize here — is the fact that we are seriously depleting the volume of water moving through the fresh water part of the global cycle. I used statistics pertaining only to the land portion of the hydrologic cycle quite intentionally — the point of the blog was to say that there is only so much water moving through the land portion of the water cycle at any given time, and that volume of water moving across the terrestrial landscape gathers in local “buckets” of river basins, lake basins, aquifers. If we deplete those buckets too heavily at any given time, we’re setting ourselves up for catastrophes.

  • David Ezell

    The importance of the article, regardless, is people are waking up. As a species, we are still learning how the planet works. We have a lot of young science, lots of computer models with data/weighting/feedback issues. It is safe to state that there are huge draw downs of fossil water that is not being replaced. Cali water utilities can and will deliver water to new housing developments with the standard of: with current and projected usage for 75 years. Folly.

  • Ann

    One day, I stood on the bank of Thu Bon river. I heard my father said that he had swum in this river when he was young. But now, he couldn’t do it any more. The river has been killing by people who bring sand from the river to cities. Water level has dropped, more and more sand are appeared. ” Are we running out of water?”

  • Rob Riordan

    Few of us living in areas that are “robbing” other basins for our daily water probably realize that this is so (thinking about places like southern California . . . when I lived there, I was only vaguely aware that my water was being piped in from hundreds of miles away, and that I was part of the reason that the Colorado River ran dry). Wouldn’t it be a great awareness tool to create and publicize a “water dashboard” for each water basin, to give people (and policymakers) in a single view an idea of where their water was coming from, how big the deficit was in their water account, and how sustainable / unsustainable the usage was?

  • karen oborn

    There are already too many people using too much fresh water for non essential things. Fresh water should be for drinking and medical use only, all other uses, agriculture, households, industry etc. should use recylced waste water or non potable sources without damaging natrual ecosystemsy no expections!

  • […] Water, water, everywhere, but the world’s rivers are failing to make it all the way to the oceans […]

  • […] Water, water, everywhere, but the world’s rivers are failing to make it all the way to the oceans […]

  • […] to the WorldWatch Institute, “some 20 percent of the increase in water scarcity in the coming decades will be caused by […]

  • […] […]

  • Elly Rose Layson

    We should take care our water like what we care in ourselves. Not only the animals can be affected but also us, a human beings. Must be all countries should be having a program on how to manage our water system. When i was walking outside the house, there are lots of water wasted. From different households. They didn’t know what will be the change of all this. When we can move to protect our fresh water? When is it the end!!!But i know…..GOD will help us…

  • […] water, everywhere, but the world’s rivers are failing to make it all the way to the […]

  • Ian

    I so wish that people in the Uk took the issue of water more seriously?????????????????????????????????
    But everyone in my opinion is blind to the fact that it will run out unless drastic measures are taken now FACT 40 years ago Spain took it very very seriously FACT they now have over 900 desalination plants what is going on here because the day will come and as far as i can see its only a matter of time now till the day arrives and it gone !!! and all the government will say Oh lessons will be learned from this but it will be too lat action must be taken now to avert a disaster FACT IT WILL RUN OUT Thankyou Ian

  • Sadat Mazhar

    The only solution of that probldn is saving water and creating awareness , but the usa have the high litracy rate in the world, ,, but what about develop and devloping countries like, Pakistan ,how can we change the attitude of people about this serious matter , ?? Here 97 % water once people use that dnt utlize agdin ,ie water treatment etc, and no political intrest and we are very dangrous in condition right now so what,s the step tha take us far away this problem??’?

  • […] Here, here, here, and […]

  • […] face ecological disasters of ever-greater magnitudes. Water depletion and desertification are not going away. The oceans are stressed to the point where scientists are […]

  • wayne caddigan

    I believe the worlds supply of fresh drinking water is being

    deminished with each passing decade. The question is what

    is being done about it.

  • […] another interesting article about water. About one-fifth of California’s energy use is to pipe water from one place to […]

  • Eileen Carrillo

    how does the u.s store fresh water for drinking? and how is food stored in case of prolonged attack or a bad growing season?

  • Alexis

    I think we are running out of water and soon we will have none , Like right now i am doing a project on this particular thing. and how we can reduce our water consumption . this article plays out alot of infromation . And i think this is very helpful ,

  • Mike Reality

    Yes, we are running out of fresh water world-wide, and yes our consumption and emissions habits are a contributing factor to global warming but not to the degree most of the world thinks. To find the TRUTH behind what’s really causing all of this, all one has to do is google image HAARP WORLDWIDE LOCATIONS and exactly what HAARP is really used for (not the reason that the governments give), then pick up your bibles, read Revelation and pray for a easy departure. The Governments of this earth are not your friends!

  • […] a bit of context.  At the global scale, we are in no danger of running out of water.  We are presently using only about 4% of the water flowing through and into the rivers, lakes and […]

  • Ian Ferry

    But what about the water re-entering the atmosphere as we burn fossil fuels ? About 1 litre of water for every kg burned if I recall High School science. Not just carbon dioxide is a by product of combustion, but water too. We have more water, not less.

    • Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Ian. I hadn’t realized that we are actually making “new” water when we burn fossil fuels. Apparently this results from the release of hydrogen from the fossil fuel, which combines with oxygen in our atmosphere to form water vapor. But it doesn’t amount to much in a relative sense. With help from Michael Webber at University of Texas and John Matthews at Conservation International, we estimate that the volume of new water created in this manner would amount to no more than 10 billion cubic meters (BCM) per year. By comparison, annual precipitation on land is estimated at 110,000 BCM per year, another 391,000 falls on the ocean, and another 45,000 BCM is moving through the atmosphere. So the new water created by fossil fuel is literally a drop in the bucket, and not much help for the water-scarce places on our planet.

  • Mark Antonio Trimble

    In Africa, India, Asia and most South American countries pollution of water through contamination by the Industrial sector who dumps toxic fumes and waste into our rivers, dams, ocean and underground water resources. The mining sector is another culprit in contaminating and depleting our water supply. Less than 5% of human waste that is annually dumped into our rivers and dams are by those villagers and rural communities who have no access to running water and toilet facilities.

  • […] Unbeknownst to many people, this is an age when grand rivers and long-time water sources like the Rio Grande and the Colorado River are running dry, which is pushing companies and state governments to look at other long-term alternatives for […]

  • AL

    Study says Colorado River water supply to fall short of demand. Why not reduce demand by reducing water waste in the areas that depend on that water supply? The Water Select® valve reduces water used in the shower by 20% to 70%. It is a one of a kind product that was just released on the market. For more info go to

  • Chris

    I don’t see how water is being wasted, it’s not like water is leaving earth. If you wash your car, that water evaporates and eventually becomes rain, which refills lakes & rivers. It all goes back to the earth. When we drink water, we eventually pee it back out.

  • Alice

    This article has been very useful, thanks. The article stated that the problem was that once water has evaporated, it doesn’t rain down again on to the same place it evaporated from. Is there any pattern as to where it precipitates? Could it be possible in the future for us to be able to change where it rains? Thank you!

    • Alice, considerable effort has been expended in trying to perfect the practice of “cloud seeding,” in which a substance — usually silver iodide, dry ice, or salt — is sprayed into the air in an effort to cause condensation of moisture and induce rain. The results have been mixed and inconclusive. One concern is that by inducing rainfall in one place we could be robbing some other place of the rainfall it would have received. All in all, not a practice that I’m betting on!

  • […] Earth’s population grows and global temperatures rise, we are rapidly and unsustainably depleting and polluting our water resources. The rate of groundwater withdrawals is unprecedentedly high […]

  • […] (See "Are We Running Out of Water?") […]

  • Shahzeb

    Hey.. Yes we are running out of water but I have a question;
    Q. Can’t we purify the oceans water and make it clean for drinking?
    Another fact: they say: WW3 is going to be based on water and countries will fight over water. But We can get ourselves water from the ocean .. no?

  • jonny

    Aquaponics is a good way to grow our food without using much water at all. Reducing mosquito pop and raise fish for eating. We could take that 10 percent and make it way less, while still feeding everyone well.

  • […] Are We Running Out of Water?. […]

  • siddharth

    why do lakes now-a-days receives more water from sewage than natural water

  • MeT

    We have lots of salt water and freshwater mixing down here, but if they take the melting snow from the Mississippi River before it reaches Louisiana we have more fresh water to spare and share. P.s. I’m under 12! I can even think of better things than government.

  • Kate

    It blows my mind as I watch billions and billions spent on transporting oil and gas in pipelines that crisscross this country but no water lines. Yes I takes power to push it through but if it is set up right it also produces power as it is pushed through. Equaling out the power problem. Why more and more old lake area’s are not dredged and rivers that have filled in with silt dredged, makes a person wonder. We have the knowledge, we have people who need work, apparently we just don’t have someone running the company who will do it.

  • h20

    H20 is unique

  • Mark

    It’s a simple solution if people would stop eating all meats and dairy. 70% of our water supply goes to raising animals for food. Instead of eating the cow to get protein you can eat many delicious veggies and beans and nuts and legumes. The key to tasty food is spicing. Try eating a piece of meat with nothing on it and it tastes bland, a vegan like me won’t eat a salad unless theirs a nice salad dressing on it. The point is is that until people go back to a simple natural way of eating, we will always have this problem and no amount of low flush toilets will solve the problem.

  • jay

    google about china steeling our water from the great lakes from our aquifers , foot ball field size bags as long and wide 6 or 7 feet tall and as many as 5 or 6 of these containers at the same time dragging them back with a vessel to replenish there aquifers unreal if this is true please quote me if im right or wrong this must stop who authorized this

    • Jay, in my book Chasing Water I tell the story of the attempts to take Great Lakes water and ship it to Asia. Fortunately, the US states and Canadian provinces that share the Great Lakes passed an international compact that forbids the export of water out of the Great Lakes basin. For the foreseeable future, I don’t expect to see massive volumes of water being exported out of the US, for the reasons I mention in one of my earlier blogs.

  • Brett

    Look at cities as catchment areas, and measure the amount of water that is missed by dams. Local retention will add massive capacity to citys’ burdened dams. Use for non potable use ie toilets and irrigation, and spare the blue water.

    • Brett, I agree that we should be capturing stormwater and re-purposing it for use in our cities, particularly for non-potable use as you suggest. But unfortunately, this won’t make much of a dent in meeting urban water needs overall. Take Austin for instance. If you could collect every drop of rain falling on the city (albeit unrealistic), you’d have more than 600,000 cubic meters of water to use each year. Compare that to the water that the city consumptively uses each year, and you find that number to be 122x the volume that you could capture as stormwater. The ‘water footprints’ of our cities — even if you only measure their direct, and not their indirect use — is far, far greater than the actual area of the cities themselves.

  • Parker West

    Having spent quite a bit of time living in the foothill communities east of Sacramento and having spent much time going back and forth thru Southern Nevada while living in Phoenix half of the year, I think I “get” the drought and it’s as bad as the alarmists paint it. Most of the citizens no longer are listening believing the politicians will insure that we are all OK, but it’s not happening. Utah wants to build a pipeline taking water out of Lake Powell all the way west to St George, yet another straw sucking up water that may not be there when the tunnel is complete. Has anyone thought about reduction of use, given these folks use 2-4 times the water that we in Maricopa County use (per person/per year)? I believe we are just as clean with far less water. Las Vegas is fully dependent on Colorado River water flowing into Lake Mead, with the current water level so low, they have had to build yet another straw hundreds of feet down from the straws in place. To a complete novice like myself the thought that if things became so bad, should we not build-in devices to protect the freshwater we do have keeping the Sacramento River and Columbia River water from flowing into the Pacific, to a greater extent than we are? I get the damage to fish and wildlife to crops and channels below the point in which we try to “save” or divert even more water than we already have or are doing. With the draught, simple logic tells you that the Pacific is going to back flow upstream destroying more and more freshwater flowing down the big rivers. I have no idea how delicate the salinity of the Pacific maybe and if cutting the fresh flow of water will harm the seafood market, so I have to ignore that part. So let’s say the amount of Northern California snow melt became so critical that there was very little water to pump up and down the hills I to the LA Basin, so the Govenor starts emergency procedures to build structures 30 miles west of the city of Sacramento cutting by 2/3’s the Sacrramento River’s drainage into the Pacific, (of course I have no idea if you could do so) using pipelines and pumps, this water is sent to fill the empty reservoirs as well as the pipeline to SoCal. We are trying to save people here, certainly the enviromental damage would be huge, the chinook salmon run would simply be a thing of the past. I wonder if this fantasy can even play out, but if the drought lasts another 5-10 years the southwest will have no choice but to try something as drastic as this, or worse.

  • Parker West

    If the current drought has a positive side, it is that we have millions of people now thinking about the problem, a few asking why it wouldn’t be possible to try “this” or “that” to deal with it. The few experts may find the questions bothersome, to me, regardless of whether an idea has any practicality to it, it’s all positive. I don’t think Southern California’s drought problem can be “fixed” by traditional moves, at some point part of the population will need to shift north or 1000 miles east. From the world history courses I’ve taken way back in time, it’s not altogether unusual for a people to do so, as a result of America’s dust bowl (crop failures, wether changes), hurricanes, jobs, even disease and politics. It’s not all that drastic either. Maybe we’ll develope some sanity and start building new nuclear power plants to power such efforts as desalination efforts, maybe LA could exist as if for a bit longer, as if the severely divided state could ever agree on anything. If we had a forward thinking federal government our energy needs would have been completely taken care of for 100-300 years in advance by switching autos from gas powered to compressed natural gas, using oil for lubrication only, while we heated/cooled/powered with new and safe, nuclear power. No Virginia, Fukishima could never happen again, if we built plants away from earthquake prone areas and sea storm surge. But we may never know, the Feds aren’t willing to invest in Thorium based plants to insure one gets built or even Fusion based plants that use low level nuclear waste from Fission plant that we have no idea what to do with.OK, numbskull what does this have to do with water? Simple SoCal runs dry and desalination is a power hungry process, hence an alternative method has to be found to make it work, drawing from the current supply would be grossly expensive.

  • Parker West

    Gee it’s all so clear now, HAAP is the problem and the Bible is the solution. Amazing
    Actually the Bible and foolish, superstitious folks are the problem. To depend upon silly ass conspiracy theory to provide analysis rather than actually taking to time to get educated and gain some understanding of the vary complex nature found in our challenges, only sets us further and further backwards. So we pull down the Bible, a book that regards mental illness as devil possession, birth defects as the result of naughty parents, and a flat earth as the place we exist on, and ALL the solutions can be found, RIT Thar, by Job I thimk you’ve got it.

  • Meh

    Didn’t Bill Gate come up with a solution to this problem already? Turning human waste into drinkable water.

  • jars28

    Are really running out of water ?????
    Revelation 21:17
    And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life free

    Water plan and simple big Companies are harviting all natural resources water (fraking ) I seen it first hand in South Texas . water was shut off for 2 days also electricity also was out for many hours day in day out !! Big Corporation is the Problem.. Forcing people to need them .. Money we all know is Evil . The world would be better off with out it . no hunger no crime . ofcourse they will be a down fall to it .. Like every change in our society ..

  • tatiyana

    are we running out of water im not sure about this article. Im in 5th grade

  • Mason Ray

    What is the downside of the redistribution of water?

    • Mason, I discussed a couple of good reasons in my blog: it’s very costly to move water over great distances, and it uses a lot of energy (with associated climate-damaging carbon emissions). But I believe the strongest argument is that it’s getting harder and harder to find water basins that have any ‘surplus’ water from which to borrow and redistribute. For instance, in the Western US, more than half of the renewable water supplies is being exhausted in more than half of all water basins; more than 3/4 of the renewable supply is being consumed in one-fourth of Western US basins. Therefore, when we reach into other water basins to import water for our local needs, we are likely placing those other basins in jeopardy of running out of water as well.

  • S

    What happens when we start holding water in tanks, water bottles, cars, humans, etc etc. Surely there is more water being stored now then what was 200 years ago that cannot be evaporated. Holding more fresh water must have some sort of affect on the oceans and their salt content.

    Concerned Citizen

  • Enrique Mendez

    Does this water re-distribution encompass the entirety of the earths water system ? Or is it specified in this article to the average 2.5% of the worlds water that is actually drinkable?
    What are your thoughts on the redistribution being a part of a larger cycle of the earth such as that of the 4 main seasons accepted in typical knowledge ?

  • Moorthi Radhakrishnana

    The blog is absolutely fantastic. Lots of great information and inspiration, both of which we all need. Thanks.
    Lubricant Water Mitigation Australia

  • L. H. Abernathey

    We need to use more recycled water. No need to be flushing drinkable water down the toilet. We also need to capture more rainwater for plumbing purposes. It still makes it way back to the earth. Climate change over time is real, what is also real is man made climate change is the coruption of science and the brainwashing of the populace to support a political agenda.

  • Nats

    I actually don’t have a comment I have a question can u pls answer my question does all the freshwater come from the rain if it is then justify if it is not then also justify

    • All of the renewable freshwater on our planet does originate from precipitation (either rain or snow). Some of that precipitation runs off the landscape (watershed) and into our rivers or lakes, and some may infiltrate deep into the ground and recharge our underground aquifers. We can then withdraw and use the water that collects in rivers, lakes, and aquifers. For more explanation, I encourage you to read my book, “Chasing Water,” published by Island Press.

  • Cc

    what are some of the advantages of water redistribution because you talked a lot about the negatives, but i was hoping to find a little bit more on the advantages of fresh water redistribution

  • Reza

    Hello ;
    Yes we are running out of water here in Iran too, Although we have a lots of springs shower in north and western part of the country due to the snow and rains in the cold winters . Its said that our agriculture has a highest consumption of the water, and may be 10% drinking and household consumption.


    This was a great blog about how we are running out of water and i think that this was very helpful and could be used in schools learning about this stuff

  • Haword

    are there other ways we could be running out water?

  • Micheal

    How can we stop unevenly distributions of water. Are there ways that we haven’t done before that would make a big difference?
    Please respond. This is for an essay I have to do.

    • Micheal, by ‘unevenly distributed’ I didn’t mean ‘inequitably’ or unfairly distributed’. The unevenness I referred to is caused by our settlement patterns: we have concentrated our populations and farms in places where water supplies are limited, or being exhausted by human use. We are running out of opportunities to move water around, because communities don’t want ‘their’ water to be shipped elsewhere. Our best solutions in the 21st century all involve using less water to do what we need to do. Both farms and cities can cut their water use in half. Write your report about that!

  • aalyia willaims

    the Article is way interested because it has more information for other people to know more about the water crisis about Bangladesh and also I’m very interested of the way the Article has facts .

  • […] and Rio Grande of North America, the Yellow of China, the Brahmaputra and Ganges of Asia – have been drained of their waters, primarily to irrigate farmlands but also to support the growth of cities and industries. These […]

  • Mark Parcells

    Watching the massive floods that we have in the US from time to time (now in Texas), I can’t help but think that areas prone to flooding could become great sources for water distribution to other areas in the US. The Romans moved water thousands of miles via aqueducts without the use of electricity. Can’t we as a society learn from this. The infrastructure projects associated with this alone would be an enormous boon to the economy. Predictable flooding is really the basis of human society (Egypt), can we not do something on a greater scale to redistribute water without the level of carbon footprint that fossil-fuel driven electrical pumps would require?

    • Alee

      i agree with mark parcells too.

  • Peter M Blais

    I agree with Mark Parcells and other commenters. There must be a way to redistribute flood waters from catastrophic events like Hurricane Harvey and annual flooding along our major rivers. Skimming the flood waters from these areas and redirecting them to drought areas seems to be technologically possible if we made a full commitment to developing renewable energy sources to reduce the carbon effect of moving the water from one place to another and building the infrastructure to transport the liquid. I know we are talking about trillions of investment dollars. Without being too political and naive,we manage to find those sums to build bombs, fighter jets and warships. All we lack is the political will to change our financing focus from killing people to helping them. Come on people!!!! We can do this.

  • Jose F Medeiros

    Your logic is flawed, the water in the Rio Grande is controlled by Hoover Dam which due to over population in the Las Vegas basin, which is a dessert, Hoover Dam has released much less water into the Colorado river to maintain it’s reserve’s which is 100 feet below Capacity due to drought. We can however convert sea water to fresh drink water by using Distillation, either by Solar power, natural gas, nuclear power, Ivanpah Solar Power Plant could convert to also making salt water fresh as a by product. Santa Barbara is using Reverse Osmosis to convert sea water to fresh water due to California drought.

    Jose F. Medeiros

    • Alee

      i agree with you.

  • Alee

    hi people. where is joyce?

  • Alee

    don’t tell on me zoey!!!!!

  • Alee

    HI ZOEY.

  • Alee


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    • Alee

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  • Alee


  • Patrick Donald

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  • Misa Amane

    No one prefer chemically purified water over natural water but yes that’s the fact we are running out of water, pure water cannot complete our desire requirements so in this case we have to recycle water to complete this gap. We cannot completely make it save but surely there are some products that can help us to monitor the water during treatment like Paddle Wheel Flow Meters . What do you think so?

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