Human impact on the environment – water availability

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It is estimated that as many as 2 billion people won’t have sufficient access to clean water by 2050. That figure is expected to rise to 3.2 billion by 2080 – almost three times the number of people who now do without water. There are many efforts directed towards making good quality water available.

Availability of water

The availability of water may be influenced by the following factors:

Construction of dams

The construction of additional dams play a major role in increasing  the quantity of water stored and made available for later use by people and in agriculture.

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Destruction of wetlands

Wetlands should not be destroyed because they influence both the availability and quality of water. Wetlands trap and provide water for domestic and livestock use as well as for irrigation. The vegetation in the wetlands also helps in purifying the water naturally.

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Water wastage

A large amount of water used for irrigation  is lost due to poor farming practices. Open drain irrigation leads to loss of water by evaporation. The use of water for irrigation further up a river decreases the imageavailability of water for other users lower down in the river.

Availability is als
o affected by wastage of water through leaking taps and toilets and faulty pipelines.

Wastage of water can be reduced by reducing the pressure in the pipes, by educating people to use water wisely and by maintaining all plumbing in good condition.

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Cost of water

The cost of water is influenced by costs involved in increasing the availability of quality water.

The cost per kiloliter (kL) of water increases with increased use of water. This is meant to discourage over-use of water of water, thus allowing for its sustained use.

A certain amount of water is available free to all citizens to ensure that water is available to the poorest

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Poor farming practices

Contamination of water sources by fertilizers and pesticides have decreased the amount of clean water available, thus increasing costs involved in purification.

Over-grazing leads to soil erosion. On land that is eroded, water runs off rapidly rather than soaking into the ground, and is thus wasted.

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Droughts and floods

During periods of drought, water availability decreases. Water used from the dams during the drought periods cannot be easily replaced. Natural vegetation can hold back water from floods. If the natural vegetation is removed, flood waters are lost.

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Boreholes and their effect on aquifers

Boreholes have been used to increase water availability in areas that do not have direct access to other sources of water. Constant use of boreholes eventually leads to the drying up of aquifers (the source of water) thus decreasing water availability in the future.

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Water recycling

The availability of water can be increased if existing water is used for more than one purpose. For example, some water used in the household can be used for the garden. Sewage water can be treated and used again.

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Exotic plantations and the depth of the water table

Some exotic plants use a large quantity of water from the ground. As a result, this decreases the level of the water table, making less water available to other vegetation in the area.

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