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The Aral Sea

Land locked basin - once the 4th largest inland saline body of water but it's shrunk.

1960s: Soviet Union diverted rivers to irrigate the desert for crop growth to increase food production and self sufficiency = BEGAN TO SHRINK.

Impacts of Exploitation

  • 1960-2000 saw the amount of water abstracted from rivers DOUBLED
  • Fishing industry destroyed - employed 40 000 and lack of income
  • 60 000 migrated away due to lackof food
  • Wind-blown salt from the dried sea bed damages crops and pollutes drinking water
  • Drinking water heavily polluted with salt, cotton fertilisers, pesticides = cancer and infant mortality 30 times higher

RESTORATION = 2009 construct canal to reconnect Uralsk with the sea and 2005 built a dam - seen the level of the North Aral sea rise and salinity decrease.

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India's Water Supply

Has 4% of the world's fresh water but 16% of the world's population.

Demand will exceed supply by 2020 due to INDUSTRY and URBAN demand.


  • 54% of groundwater wells are decreasing - Overabstraction?
  • Groundwater is a buffer against volatility of monsoon rains
  • Accounts for 85% of the region's drinking water
  • 60% of irrigation

Quick facts...

21% live below the poverty line
7% lack access to water
72% of rural Indian's lack sanitation

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Coca Cola, India

Coca Cola accused to extracting so much water that agriculture in KERALA suffered:

  • Farmers had to dig deeper wells and buy bottled water.
  • Small scale farmers suffer inparticular - 70% of Indian's make living from agriculture
  • Villagers had to migrate to urban areas - POVERTY? SLUM DWELLERS?
  • Water table dropped drastically and a toxic sludge seeped into farmer'ssoils make it infertile.

Government failure to regulate the use of water - needs to define a clear policy on sharing.

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China's Water Supply

Agriculture demands 65%, domestic has risen 10 fold in the last 50 years and industry is more efficient and recycle waste.

China has 8% of the world's fresh water but 22% of the world's population.

2/3s do not have enough water all year round.

BEIJING AND TIANJIN - Experiencing Water Scarcity

  • Large populations and demand
  • Heavy industry in Tianjin
  • Rural-urban migration to Beijing
  • Beijing makes Tianjin's quality and quantity worse due to abstraction - upstream contaminated
  • Subsidence in Beijing = salt water incursion?
  • Prone to floods and droughts - Precipitations falls July and September (volatile)

NEW INITIATIVE: 2500m aqueduct directing water from 3 Gorges Dam to Beijing/Tianjin

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China's Pollution Problems

China's is the biggest polluter of the Pacfic Ocean (rivers carry pollution!)

75% of major lakes and 25% of coastal rivers are classed as 'HIGHLY POLLUTED'

Yangtze River

16m tonnes of waste is dumped near the Three Gorges Dam
73% increase in pollution levels
Loss of flood plain areas to agriculture which 92% of nitrogen in the river is from (eutrophication)
Dysentry and Hepatitus A is 50% higher than national average.

Impacts on Human health...

  • 2 million suffer from diseases eg cancer due to drinking arsenic/sewage contaminated water
  • Cancer villages  eg Shangba - liver cancer has been the cause of 80% recent deaths
  • Poverty means inability to pay for bottled water or to see a doctor
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China South-North Transfer

WHY: Growing demands in Beijing/Tianjin and unequal distribution of annual precipitation.


  • Transfer 44.8 billion m3 of water per year
  • Relieve water shortages in 10 provinces (1/4 of the population)
  • Drought prone risk avoided by using emergency water
  • Met 70% of Beijing's demand and 1/2 of Tianjin benefitted


  • 50 years to build and costs $62 billion (government provides 60%)
  • Worsening water quality?
  • 330 000 have to be resettled
  • Concentrates pollution
  • Increasing water tariffs means farmers are marginalised
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California, USA

Farmers problems... Agriculture uses 80% of water.

Fertile soil BUT dependent on irrigated water; they must grow fewer crops and irrigate efficiently as they don't receive 40-50% of their allocated water. FOOD PRICES RISE.
Intiatives: grow less thirsty crops and line canals with plastic lining to prevent water loss. Drip irrigation.

Physical problems...

Only 15 inches of rain per year - 2/3rds of he rain falls in the North but 2/3rds of the people live in the South. Water travels via aqueducts to thirsty cities. (State Water Project)

  • Recycle water in San Jose - self sufficient but costs $500-800 per acre foot and yuk factor
  • Desalination - energy consuption, but thirsty cities are desperate
  • Rationing? More dams and canals?

California has to reduce extraction by 20% by 2016 due to effects of climate change.

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Colorado Basin, USA

Hotspot for CONFLICT due to allocations of the basin.

Colorado Compact 1922 ignored Natives, Mexico, population growth and the environmental impact (flow was higher 1922 than later). 1963...

  • Native Americans were granted 5% of Colorado's flow - could claim 1/3 but needs are far below their allocation.
  • Apportioned water between upper and lower basin states with formal allocations
  • Berlin Rules 2004 = sustain and manage water with respect to others.
  • Farmers receive 80% of allocation - WASTED by thirsty crops and flood irrigation

Tension between California and Mexico...

Canal passes through but supply is not guaranteed as 90% of water is extracted before reaching Mexico - river no longer reaches the sea. Mexico is building a desalination plant to deal with salt water at the end of the river.

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Cochabamba, Bolivia Privatisation

WORLD BANK and IMF forced Bolivia to privatise as a form of debt relief. (Structural Adjustment Program)

Privatisation = more efficient, used to invest in infrastructure and unregulated so the poor suffer.

Bechtel was given a long term contract (40 years) to manage and supply water.


  • The price of water increased by $20 per month (not affordable) so the TNC could build a dam
  • 2000 = there were riots where 170 were injured and a 17 year old died.
  • Bechtel was forced out resulting in chaos in water delivery and a blow to FDI to the country
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The Nile: Aswan High Dam



  • More than half of total supply in Egypt
  • Flow of Nile controlled and water used for irrigation, drinking and HEP
  • Sudan and Egypt have an agreement on distribution
  • Stopped annual flooding of the Nile


  • 90 000 relocated
  • Alluvium no longer deposited = farmers forced to use artifical fertiliser (eutrophication)
  • Delta is shrinking due to lack of sediment
  • Ancient monuments eg Abu Simbel relocated 
  • Waterbourne disease - Bilharzia.
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The Great Renaissance Dam, Ethiopia

Cost £3.1 billion funded by tax payers and bonds.

Positives for Ethiopia and Neighbours...

  • 6000 megawatts of energy which is sold to other countries lowering the cost of electricity
  • Fairer share of the Nile
  • Stable relations between countries 
  • Greater investment? Largest dam in Africa

Egypt is concerned because:

  • There is a potential threat to their dominance over the Nile; flow is restricted?
  • Egypt already sufers water shortages and imports 80% of its water to fit demand of increase populations.
  • The river may be slightly diverted.
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The Nile: Toshka Project

Conflict in the Nile...

Egypt has the lionshare (57%) of the Nile and uses magadams to exploit the water for agriculture and irrigation (ASWAN)

Ethiopia is in conflict with this and wants to build dams on the Blue Nile but Egypt opposes it due to their rights over the dam (GREAT RENAISSANCE)

Systems of canals carry water from Lake Nasser to irrigate the desert.

  • 20% of citizens have been relocated to the new Nile valley
  • Aims to house more than 3 million people
  • Would increase arable loand by 10%
  • Waste of water?


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Middle East Water Conflict

14 of the world's most stressed countries are in the Middle East/ North Africa: Mounting pressure due to declining oil reserves so countries turn to thirsty crops to generate wealth and the desalination is expensive. Also climate change sees successive droughts 1990-2005

Israel's Water Insecurity...

Due to growing population, internal competition for supplies and disputes with neighbours

Main sources of water all show signs of degredation and overabstraction (Coastal aquifers see salt water incursion, mountain aquifers are shared with Palestines)

Management: recycling sewage for crops, desalination (terrorist target), importing virtual water.

Israel and Palestine accuse eachother of mismanagement
Lebanon built waterpipelies on Israel's border, Israel bombed Lebanese pipelines 2006
Syria wants borders reinstated compromising 25% of Israel's supply.

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Turkey's GAP Project

22 dams costing $32 billion; aim to improve economic development using nature water supplies and open area up to agricultural production - increase income/capita by 50%.

Needed to overcome physical scarcity (55% lost through evapotranspiration) and improve well being of people.


  • Flood 80 000 out of homes, displacing 10 000s of Kurdish minorities
  • Increase of water borne diseases
  • Will flood oldest towns and monuments
  • Loss of international backing

Syria and Iran oppose this as the river planned to dam provides water to them and will restrict flow by 40% in Syria and 80% in Iran. Turkey could restrict flow for political reasons.

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