Unit 2.4 Watery World

  • Created by: Jawaaad
  • Created on: 27-05-17 17:40

Water Consumption in HICs and LICs

Water usage in HICs is much greater than that in LICs e.g. 600 litres used in the USA  per day, whereas 25 litres used in Ethiopia per day

There are three types of water usage: DomesticAgricultural, and Industrial.

In terms of majority used:

  • HICs = domestically
  • LICs = agriculturally
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Reasons for Differences in Water Consumption

Domestic Usage

  • In HICs people have water piped into their home making domestic practices like personal hygiene and gardening much simpler.
  • In LICs there isn't access to piped water so women and children have to walk long distances to get water from streams. This means water is used much more sparsely.

Agricultural Usage

  • In HICs irrigation systems controlled by computers are used. It determines exactly how much water is required and supplies it quickly., up to 75 litres per second.
  • In LICs plants are watered using buckets or simple irrigation systems, supplying water at 1 litre per second.

Industrial Usage

  • In HICs factories are on a large scale and use thousands of litres of water
  • In LICs small-scale cottage industries only use a small amount of water
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How does Greater Wealth lead to Greater Water Cons

Increasing wealth means increased usage of:

  • Labour saving machines such as washing machines and dishwashers. These machines use much more water than traditional ways of washing clothes and dishes
  • Bath and shower rooms which enable people to wash more frequently
  • The leisure and tourism industry as people demand people demand services, such as golf courses and swimming pools leading to a corresponding increase in demand for water
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  • Aquifers are large areas of porous rock, such as chalk, which are like giant sponges that fill up with water that soaks into the ground
  • The highest level of water in an aquifer is the water table. The level of this varies depending on the amount of rainfall and level of temperature
  • Water is extracted from the aquifer by drilling down into the rock and the water either comes to the surface naturally or is pumped
  • It is then stored in reservoirs till needed
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A reservoir is an artificial lake of water held behind a dam to store water used for multiple purposes e.g irrigation, drinking or power use.

The best place for a reservoir is a river valley where upland areas can act as natural walls. Also, the rock underneath needs to be impermeable so water doesn't leak away. 

There are two type of reservoir:

  • Direct supply: store water and supply it straight to water treatment works
  • River regulating: stores water during rainy periods so that water can be topped up during dry spells. They release water into the river to be treated and supplied further downstream
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Kielder Water

  • It is a river regulating reservoir opened by the Queen in 1982 and is located on the North Tyne River
  • It can hold 200 billion litres of water which it supplies to cities such as Newcastle
  • It holds back the water and releases it on demand
  • The water is transferred through pipelines to other rivers in the area such as the Tees to enable it to supply water to Middlesborough
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Water Surplus and Deficit on a World Scale

  • Areas of the world that have a surplus of water are usually those which receive the most rainfall.
  • There is also a link between the demand for water in an area and the supply, for example, the east coast of USA receives approximately 1000mm of rain per year but is water neutral, not surplus, because of the large populations in the area.
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Water Supply Problems in HICs

Availability: in some areas of the world water is more available than others. Due to lack of rainfall but also because of demands of water because of large populations. For example, most of Australia has a water deficit even though some parts have plenty of rainfall

Quality: of the water has to be constantly monitored by water providers to ensure it is of a good standard. This is due to water courses being polluted by factories or agricultural run-off. It is usually of high quality, however.

Spatial Variability: rain falling in one area but the population living in another. For example, 33% of UK lives in the south-east where it has 625mm. However, 2000mm falls in the sparsely populated areas of Wales and Scotland.

Seasonal Variability: difference in rainfall at different times of the year. For example, Greece only receives 12% of its rainfall during the summer months. Even worse as tourists cause even more demand at this time.

Loss Through Broken Pipes: pipes that carry UKs domestic water supply are 150 years old. Many of them crack and leaks occur. Estimated 30% of water supply is lost

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Water Supply Problems in LICs

Clean Piped Water: piped water to homes is taken for granted in HICs however, approximately 1 billion people in LICs don't have access to safe drinking water

Water-Borne Diseases: dysentery caused by drinking dirty water. Bilharzia caused by the larvae of snails which get into people's bloodstreams and cause kidney failure 

Pollution: related to resource exploitation. In the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador people drink and wash with water contaminated by oil toxins from unlined pits left by Texaco after they drilled for oil in the area. This has caused increasing rates of cancer

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How Water is Managed in HICs


  • Short-flush toilets: new toilets fitted with these so that less water is used to flush
  • Hosepipe bans: these will be issued by water companies if there is a drought. Fines can be given


  • Drip irrigation: gives water straight to the roots rather than spraying all over. Therefore no water is lost through evaporation
  • Rain sensors: activated by rainfall to shut down irrigation system when it starts to rain


  • Walker Crisps: Reduced usage of water by 50% by installing 30 water metres in their plants and educating their workforce about the use of water 
  • Other companies: tap restrictors, to allow only a certain amount of water usage. Push button taps and showers in washrooms and leisure complexes also
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How Water is Managed in LICs

Appropriate technology: small scale community projects which can be maintained by the local community in a sustainable way. Their aim is to be easy to use without much cost

Recycling systems

  • Water is recycled in India to improve supply problems as the population is growing rapidly. Kolkata recycles its sewage water into drinking water. The processing plants have been built by Unitech Water Technologies LTD

Water conservation

  • Rainwater collected from roof then stored in tanks before being poured through simple filtering process and then used as drinking water. In other areas, water is collected in pools behind dams before needed


  • Holes dug into the ground leading to water-bearing rocks. Holes were dug in the Katine country in Uganda in 2008 and were maintained by a mechanic who was called in if something went wrong. Making the local community feel in charge.
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Case Study: Conflict over a water resource

Tigris-Euphrates River System

What is the GAP

  • $32 projects to harness power of the upper reaches of the rivers to irrigate fertile lands between them

Why does Turkey argue it's beneficial

  • As the dams will regulate the flow of rivers. Decrease Syrian border from 30BCM/a to 16BCM/a and Iraq from 16BCM/a to 5BCM/a

Why are Syria and Iraq against it

  • As it restricts water flow into countries so they have less access to it

What conflict has risen as a result

  • In 1974 Iraq put troops on Syrian border threatening to destroy its Al-Thawra Dam on the Euphrates. 
  • Only small part of GAP has been realised. Tensions will increase as more water is used in these projects
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Case Study: A water management scheme

The Three Gorges Dam: (a hydroelectric dam on the Yangtze river in China)

Reasons for the water management scheme

  • produce clean electricity
  • control flooding
  • Improve shipping along the river

Effects of people

  • Protects approximately 15 million people from the threat of flooding
  • A landslide in an area beside the reservoir killed 30 people in July 2008

Effects on the environment

  • It will protect an estimated 1.5 million hectares of land from flooding
  • The Yangtze River dolphin has become extinct due to stagnant water not being able to flow the waste water 
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