Water Conflicts

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Geographical Controls

  • Moutain chains run parallel to coast so prevent moist air
  • Most rainfall on coastal zone
  • Extended droughts mean that groundwater levels are low


  • Precipitation - 65% of precipitation lost through evaporation, 50% of rainfalls between march-november = seasonal shortages
  • Population - grown from 2 million to 37.7 million, demand exceeds natural supply
  • Spatial imbalance - 3/4 of demand comes from south whereas 75% of rainfall in North


  • Polluted pathways
  • Increasing in salinity
  • Fish stocks depleted
  • Wetlands have been drained
  • Groundwater over extraction
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Physical Factors


  • Regions near equator recieve high levels of annual precipitation
  • Equatorial areas such as Amazon have 2 distinct periods of wet weather per year
  • Moonsoon areas of Asia have 1 very wet season

River Systems

  • The worlds largest major rivers store large quantities of water and transfer it across continents
  • River flow increases downstream as more tributaries feed into the main river


  • Where rocks underlying a river basin are impermeable water will remain on the surafce creating a high drainage density
  • Aquifers can store huge amounts of water underground
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Human Factors

  • Rainfall - Moonsoon climate=high humidity, June-Sept highest amount of rainfall, Jan-May lowest rainfall
  • Population - demand outstrips supply, not enough water to recharge aquifers, 2011=1.1billion, demand from population exceeds input into water systems
  • Agriculture - more agriculture due to population rise, heavily dependent on water, wells source of irrigation but groundwater is depleting
  • Desalination plants - opened in 2010, 100million litres of water per day to city, reverse osmosis, 237million litres of seawater per day
  • NGO Wells for life - constructed over 400 wells, provide safe clean water, without it the rural population would not have access to water

Physical Factors

  • Temperature - High temperature=high rate of evaporation, rapid rainfall decline from sept-october but increase in temperature, more evaporation = water deficit
  • Physical geography - smaller rivers in south means water flows into oceans quickly, fewer tributaries, major rivers transfer west to east and east to west not to the south
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Water Poverty Index

Water Scarcity

  • Annual water supplies drop below 1,00m3 per person
  • 20 developing countries classified as water scarce
  • Economic scarcity - cannot afford the water 
  • Physical scarcity - demand exceeds supply


  • Resources - quality + quantity of water
  • Access - time and distance involved in obtaining water
  • Capacity - how well it is managed
  • Use - how economically water is used
  • Environment - ecological sustainability
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Canada vs. Ethiopia


  • Population 30 million
  • Each household uses 800 litres per day
  • Used for lawns, parks and pools
  • GNI - $33,170
  • Water use (domestic) - 20%
  • Water use (agricultural) - 12%
  • Water use (industrial) - 69%
  • Water poverty index = 78


  • Population 62.9 million
  • Each person uses 1 litre per day
  • Water fetched from shared resource
  • GNI - $170
  • Water use (domestic) - 1%
  • Water use (agricultural) - 93%
  • Water Poverty Index - 45
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Aral Sea


  • Soviet central Government decided to make soviet union self sufficient in cotton
  • Large dams built across both rivers supplying the sea
  • 850 mile centrak canal with far reaching systems of feeder controls was created


  • Water level dropped by 16 metres
  • Volume reduced by 75%
  • Shrunk to 2/5 of its original size
  • Drinking water is contaminated with pesticides
  • Fishing Industry ruined
  • Respitorary illness from dust with toxic chemicals


  • Soviet Government
  • Fishing industry
  • Local residents
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Restoring the Aral Sea


  • Kazakhstan Government secured a $126 millio loan from world bank to save the northern part
  • Build a dam to bring back water into the deserted part of the Aral seas
  • New loan after the previoulsy secured one


  • Rain has returned
  • Fisherman have been able to resume fishing


  • Some waters are controlled by other countries
  • Southern part is still shrinking
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Turkeys GAP


  • $132 billion project to address droughts


  • 22 dams
  • 19 HEP plants
  • Irrigate over 1.7 million hectres
  • Will dam Euphrates and Tigris


  • Syria and Iraq are unhappy as rivers provide most water
  • Flood nearly 800,000
  • Dam was proposed but could not get funding because of impact


  • Water released to help Syria but not Iraq
  • New plans to build Cizre dam from Tigris which will annoy Iraq + Syria
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  • 1967 - 5 day war over Syrian attempt to divert river Jordan
  • 2005/6 - Litoni river disputes between Lebanon + Israel, Lebanon bombed water pipeline


  • 25% natural
  • Sea of Galilee
  • Mountain aquifers 80% Israel 18% Palestine
  • Coastal aquifer 90% Israel


  • Coastal aquifers have been overpumped
  • Mountain aquifers in west bank also over pumped led to pollution
  • Dead sea drying up
  • Mistrust between Israel and Palestinians - dividing wal
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China's Management - South North


  • Worlds largest hydraulic engineering scheme
  • Transfer water from Yangtze basin to the arid North
  • 3 lines of canals to run across eastern, middle and western parts of china and link 4 rivers
  • Cost $62 billion and will take 50 years to complete


  • Water conservation, improved irriagation and pollution treatments
  • Will supply big cities like Beijing
  • Central government to pay for 60% of the cost
  • Transfer 44.8 billion m3 per year


  • Will take 50 years to complete
  • Significant ecological and environmental impacts 
  • Resettlement of people will be needed
  • Declining of water quality
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Three Gorges Dam


  • Worlds largest HEP system
  • Along the Yangtze river
  • Clean alternative to coal


  • 18,000 mw of electricity generated
  • Will supply water to region responsible for 22% of chinas GDP
  • Flood protection will save lives and cut financial losses
  • Develop chinas interior 


  • Important heritage sites will be lost
  • Ecological impacts on fishing and habitats
  • Dam failure, earthquakes could cause serious issues
  • Pollution increases as abondoned mines and factories are flooded
  • 1.9 million people will be displaced
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The Good - Sustainable Water

  • Reduction in global water consumption
  • River flows could increase
  • Global rain fed yeilds increase due to sustainable farming techniques
  • Agriculture and omestic water prices double
  • Food production could increase slightly
  • Investment in crop research and technology would increase

The Bad - Do Nothing

  • Water scarcity reduces food production
  • Water consumption up 50%
  • Household water consumption up by 70%
  • Developing countries reliant on imports and malnutrition occurs widely
  • Grain Imports more than triple in Africa
  • In USA and China water will be pumped faster than it can be recharged
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Futures Cont.

The Ugly - Water Crisis

  • Global water consumption will increase 
  • Demand for domestic water will fall
  • Demand for industrial water will be up by 33%
  • Food production will decline and food prices increase
  • Malnutrition and food security becomes rife
  • Aquifers in India and China will fail
  • Conflict over water will increase
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How Can We Respond?

Hard Engineering

  • Build dams such as the 3 gorges
  • Has ecological, social costs
  • Provide HEP and flood protection

Wetland Restoration

  • Local Scale involve restoring meanders and replanting vegetation e.g River Kissimmee
  • Use sustainable methods

Water Conservation

  • Reducing amount of water used e.g efficient irrigation and water harvesting
  • Sweden - national pee outside day
  • UK - turning off taps
  • Ogallala aquifer - infra red sensors

Water Collection

  • Catching rain water and building small dams
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How Can We Respond? Cont.


  • Removal of excess salt and other minerals from water
  • Most countries involved are well off e.g. Saudi Arabia
  • Technologically advanced
  • Two methods - filtering and reverse osmosis

Virtual Water

  • When water is traded as goods that need water in their production
  • 1 kg of wheat costs 1,330L water
  • 1 kg eggs costs 3,300 water

Settlement Design

  • Bedzed, Surrey - water efficient housing estate most rain falling is collected and reused
  • Dongtang, China - housing estate has 2 water collection systems for clean and grey water
  • Decentralized systems separate urine from faeces then use them as crop fertilisers
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  • NGO's - water aid
  • WTO's and TNC's
  • World Bank fund projects
  • G8 Summit


  • NGO's - water aid
  • Government owned water companies 
  • TNC's - FDI to developing countries


  • 7 billion consumers
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Snowy Mountain Scheme


  • 225km pipeline
  • 16 dams 
  • 7 power stations and 1 pumping station


  • Water collected and diverts it so it can be used to power power stations tp create electricity
  • Flows to Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers
  • Used to irrigate farms in NS Wales


  • HEP clean and efficient source of energy
  • 3,700 megawatts of energy provided by the scheme


  • Conflicts between city dwellers and farmers
  • Storage lakes have destroyed valuable wildlife habitats
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