A2 Geography, Edexcel, Water Conflicts

Complete revision notes for water conflicts with an overview for the topic.

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Water conflicts
The geography of water supply
What are physical threats to water supply and scarcity?
Hydrological cycle and the threats
Climate, river systems and geology effects on water supply
What is the global imbalance between water demand and supply?
Why is water stressed?
What are the crisis as a result?
What are the trends in water use, supply, demand and stress?
What leads to water supply deterioration and who are the players?
What are the effects of pollution and over abstraction?
What is the link between water insecurity and wealth in countries at different levels of
The UN Water Cooperation Facility
The risks of water insecurity
Why is water supply fundamental?
What are the tensions of water use and conflicts?
What are the role of agreements and treaties: who are the winners and losers?
Helsinki Rules
What are the pathways for water: how does this lead to conflict?
Water conflicts and the future
What are the projections and the causes of uncertainty of water supply and demand at different
What are the scenarios for the future of water supply?
Who are the key players/stakeholders?
What are the alternative strategies that exist for managing water supply?
What is the role of technology in reducing water insecurity?
Hard engineering projects
Water conservation

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Water conflicts key words
Introduction to water conflicts
Water is a finite resource and its management is important. There are environmental refugees as a result of the lack of clean water.
There is an increasing population globally (7.2 billion) and therefore an increasing use of water. Climate change will only excavate
this situation and the access to water varies throughout the world.
Water companies are able to manipulate the prices of water and exploit its resources.…read more

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The geography of water supply
The hydrological cycle
It is a closed system that globally the hydrological system is closed. In a river, it is an open system.…read more

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Threats to the hydrological cycle
1. URBANISATION-this decreases the surface runoff time (through the drainage system) which enables water to return to the
rivers/oceans. It is much quicker and so there is a higher possibility of flood risk. They cannot follow the normal system
because of the impermeable layer of rock. There is a higher risk of evaporation.
2. AFFORESTATION-this increases the surface runoff time (if previously deforestation occurs) and so allows the continual
process of the hydrological cycle.
3.…read more

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Key information
PERMEABLE-water passes through the rock. Permeable rocks are known as aquifers.
AQUIFERS-this is an underground store of groundwater in porous rock. Water is extracted from subterranean stores mainly by wells
and boreholes.
TYPICAL MISTAKE-candidates often lack an understanding of what groundwater is and how it is extracted.
Types of permeable rock include porous (numerous pores to fill and store water) and pervious (allows water to flow along bedding
planes and down joints within the rock.…read more

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By 2050, in Colorado there will be approximately 9.5 million people and so will further pressurise this area of water if
management does not occur.
This area `belongs' to 7 states but is not equally distributed.
Reasons for water conflicts
Climate rain from the North Pacific Ocean causes the frontal system and provides one of the major inputs. There is surface runoff
as a result of the rainfall on the mountains.
Geology 1/3 of California's fresh water comes from groundwater sources: aquifers.…read more

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They are the sole source of drinking water for about a ¼ of the population.
WATER SCARCITY-This is where water consumption reaches less than 1000m3 per person and this can be classified into physical
scarcity and economic scarcity:
PHYSICAL WATER SCARCITY-the shortages occur when demand exceeds supply.
Global water consumption increased by 600% in the last century.
ECONOMIC WATER SCARCITY-this is when people simply cannot afford water, even when it is readily available.…read more

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In Bolivia, the prices charged by French-owned water companies were too high for the locals and 200,000 people chose not
to be connected the supply.
40,000 people in Detroit, USA were too poor to pay their water bills and resorted to illegal tapping.
Health and wellbeing crisis
The Millennium Development Goals included a target to halve by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe
drinking water and sanitation.…read more

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Chemical fertilisers-they are used by farmers in order to increase the production of plants, yet they contaminate river and
ground water. Sewage and fertilisers add nutrients to the water and increase the growth of algae downstream which
removes the oxygen from the water- this is known as eutrophication.
Dams-they often trap sediment in reservoirs, which reduces floodplain fertility and the flow of nutrients from rivers into
seas.…read more

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The UN reports there are around 300 potential water conflicts around the world as rivers, lakes and aquifers struggle to
provide sufficient supplies for neighbouring countries.
What is the difference between surface water and ground water?
Surface water
This is through the use of rivers and basins, e.g. the Colorado basin.
Ground water
This occurs through the use of mountain aquifers.
Many of the subterranean aquifers `straddle' international boundaries. The shared groundwater usage is complex.…read more



Saved a lot of work, thank you!


thx great notes :D

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