Fact Sheet Looks at Threats, Trends, Solutions
the well is dry, we learn the worth of water."
- Ben Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac 1733
the subject of water, three key trends confront us: Global
Warming will likely change rainfall and runoff patterns
and seriously impact our water supplies both in the United
States and abroad; 1.2 billion people in the developing
world still don't have access to clean drinking water
and pressure from pollution, wetland destruction, and
climate change is threatening to make this worse; the
dangers of water privatization demand greater scrutiny
from governments and the public.
approaches to the way we manage water are key to meeting
these challenges. Water managers, policy-makers and the
general public must recognize that today's threats will
become tomorrow's tragedies without swift action to combat
climate change, protect wetlands, guard against the dangers
of privatization, and reduce our use of water. The good
news is by improving how efficiently we use water we can
protect the environment, provide for agriculture and industry,
and ensure there is plenty of clean drinking water for
people around the world.
on the World's Water
The Earth has 1,386,000,000 km3 of water total but only
2.5 percent of that is fresh water (35,029,000 km3 or
9,254,661,800 billion gallons of fresh water).
· Less than 1 percent of the world's fresh water
(or 0.01 percent of all water) is usable in a renewable
· The average person needs a minimum of 1.3 gallons
(5 liters) of water per day to survive in a moderate climate
at an average activity level. The minimum amount of water
needed for drinking, cooking, bathing, and sanitation
is 13 gallons (50 liters).
· The average person in the United States uses
between 65 to 78 gallons of water (250 to 300 liters)
per day for drinking, cooking, bathing, and watering their
yard. The average person in the Netherlands uses only
27 gallons (104 liters) per day for the same tasks.
· Many people in the poorest nations survive on
far less than the recommended amount. The average person
in Somalia uses only 2.3 gallons (8.9 liters) of water
per person per day.
Global Warming Threatens U.S. Water Supplies and Economy
action to combat global warming could threaten U.S. water
supplies. Global warming won't just result in higher temperatures,
it also threatens to disrupt traditional weather and run-off
patterns and could increase the frequency and severity
of drought and floods. This is one reason why taking effective
action now to slow global warming is so important.
Pacific Institute's research indicates that climate change
will likely pose a serious threat to the United States,"
said Dr. Peter H. Gleick, President of the Pacific Institute.
"One of the most troubling impacts of unchecked global
warming involves the U.S. water supply. Global warming
will change when and where we get snow and rain. If our
snow pack melts too quickly or if water that falls as
snow turns to rain, we'll see more flooding in the winter
and less water during the summer when we need it most."
Facts about global warming in the United States:
There is an increased risk of severe floods and droughts
associated with climate change.
· Snowfall and snowmelt will be significantly affected
in the Sierra Nevada, Rocky Mountains, and the Pacific
Northwest, leading to changes in the timing and amount
· Rising sea levels will threaten coastal aquifers
and water supplies. Vulnerable regions include Cape Cod,
Long Island, the coastal aquifers of the Carolinas, and
the central coast of California.
· Global warming, by increasing temperatures in
lakes and streams, melting permafrost, and reducing water
clarity, could seriously threaten fish and other animals
that live in water as well as harming critical habitat
on the impacts of climate change on water can be found
Growing Threats to World's Water Demand New Approach
is essential for human survival, for agriculture and for
the survival of our planet's plants and animals. But pollution,
climate change, water-related disease, and the destruction
of our natural world all threaten the purity and availability
of our most precious resource. Despite the pressing nature
of these threats, water institutions and policymakers
have, so far, been largely unable to develop the tools
and approaches needed to address these problems.
best way to solve emerging threats to the world's fresh
water is by rethinking how we use and manage our scarce
resources," said Dr. Peter H. Gleick, President of
the Pacific Institute. "We must look at ways to increase
our efficiency of use, instead of just building more dams
and reservoirs. Improving the efficiency of our water
systems, taking real steps to tackle global warming, and
opening the policy debate over water to new voices can
help turn the tide."
about emerging threats to the world's water:
An estimated 1.2 billion people do not have access to
clean drinking water. Lack of clean drinking water leads
to nearly 250 million cases of water-related disease each
year and between 5 and 10 million deaths.
· In the past century over half of all wetlands
on the planet have been lost to development and conversion.
Wetlands are important to the health of natural systems
and people because they act as filters and flood buffers.
· Water pollution is a serious threat to the world's
water. Microbes, salts, and pollution from agriculture
and industry all contribute to the problem.
· Global warming will likely have major impacts
on the world's freshwater resources. Some areas will suffer
more frequent and severe droughts; other places will face
more frequent and severe floods.
more information or to obtain an electronic copy of "Threats
to the World's Freshwater Resources" please visit:
Dangers of Water Privatization Demand Greater Scrutiny
Water privatization - turning the operation, control,
or ownership of public water supplies over to corporations
- is increasing both overseas and in the United States.
In the U.S., cities like Stockton, California, Jersey
City, New Jersey, New Orleans, and Atlanta have all experimented
with water privatization. Though certain types of privatization
can help water utilities become more efficient or provide
water - especially to those in the developing world who
currently lack basic services - there are a host of dangers.
"There is little doubt that the headlong rush to
private markets has failed to address some of the most
critical issues and concerns about water," said Dr.
Peter H. Gleick, President of the Pacific Institute. "Our
assessment shows that rigorous, independent review of
water privatization efforts are necessary to protect the
public. Water is far too important to human health and
the health of our natural world to be placed entirely
in the private sector."
Facts about water privatization:
· Communities around the nation are experimenting
with water privatization including: Lee County, Florida;
Atlanta, Georgia; New Orleans; Jersey City, New Jersey;
Chattanooga, Tennessee; Peoria, Illinois.
· 14.8 billion gallons of bottled water (57 billion
liters) were sold worldwide in 1996 and sales of over
37 billion gallons (143 billion liters) are expected by
· People in the United States consumed over 4.4
billion gallons (17 billion liters) of bottled water in
1999 at a cost of nearly $5 billion.
For more information, to read our principles, or to obtain
an electronic copy of "The New Economy of Water"
please visit: http://pacinst.org/reports/new_economy.htm
Using Water More Efficiently Key to Meeting Future Demands
As the trends show, there are many serious threats to
the world's supply of fresh water. But the good news is
that we have a solution that can help us solve, or at
least make headway, on all of these problems: improving
efficiency. Work at the Pacific Institute indicates that
California residents are using almost 35 percent more
water than they need to be. And, previous work has shown
that there are a host of innovative techniques that can
be applied to the residential, commercial, and agricultural
sectors to improve our efficiency and conserve water.
"Using water more efficiently is critical to meeting
the challenges of the future: preserving habitat, protecting
water quality, and providing for urban and rural needs,"
said Dana Haasz, Research Associate with the Pacific Institute.
"We've got to start planning for tomorrow today."
Facts about efficiency:
· Many technologies that are already available
can help us save enough water to hedge against climate
change and reduce stress on threatened natural resources
while still allowing us to meet our needs for agricultural,
industrial, and residential use.
· By 2020, enough water can be saved from indoor
residential use to meet the needs of over 5 million people.
· Proper irrigation can save another 450 thousand-acre-feet
(TAF) of water per year. This is enough to satisfy the
needs of another 3.6 million people (1 acre-foot supplies
two households of four people for a year).
For more information, or to obtain an electronic copy
of "California Success Stories" please visit:
in 1987 and based in Oakland, California, The Pacific
Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and
Security is a nonpartisan, independent organization that
conducts research on issues at the intersection of sustainable
development, environmental protection, and international
we are currently working on include: global threats to
fresh water, environmental terrorism and environmental
security, sustainable development, new approaches to regulation,
water efficiency, environmental justice, and global warming.
projects we are working on include: The West Oakland Environmental
Indicator project, improving water efficiency in California,
preservation and enhancement of the Colorado River delta
and Salton Sea, encouraging sustainable agriculture in
California, responding to the impacts of climate change
on water supplies in the United States and abroad.
information on all of our programs, projects, and research
can be found online at: http://www.pacinst.org
of the Pacific Institute's mission is to provide information
and analysis to reporters, researchers and advocates.
The Pacific Institute's Research Associates and Affiliates
on water issues are available for interview and comment
on current research and topics of expertise.
arrange an interview or obtain comment, please contact
Nicholas L. Cain,
Communications Director: mailto:<email@example.com>,
1 (510) 251-1600
Dr. Peter H. Gleick is co-founder and President
of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment,
and Security. Dr. Gleick is an internationally recognized
expert on global freshwater resources, including the hydrologic
impacts of climate change, sustainable water use, privatization
and globalization, and international conflicts over water
Dr. Gleick serves on the boards of numerous journals and
organizations and was elected an Academician of the International
Water Academy, in Oslo, Norway, in 1999. In 2001 he was
appointed to the Water Science and Technology Board of
the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C. Dr.
Gleick is the author of many scientific papers and four
books, including the biennial water report The World's
Water published by Island Press (Washington, D.C).
Contact information: mailto:<pgleick@pipeline>,
1 (510) 251-1600.
J. Cohen is a Senior Research Associate with the Pacific
Institute. He is based in Boulder, Colorado and focuses
on the lower Colorado River and the Salton Sea. Mr. Cohen
is one of the non-governmental representatives on the
International Boundary and Water Commission Minute 306
Implementation planning committee and drafted an alternative
set of interim surplus criteria for the lower Colorado
River. Mr. Cohen also authored the only independent proposal
for the Salton Sea to be reviewed by the Salton Sea Science
Office. Mr. Cohen is the author of several journal articles
and Pacific Institute reports on the Salton Sea and the
hydrology of the Colorado River border region.
1 (720) 564-0651
Dana Haasz is a Research Associate with the Pacific
Institute who specializes in water efficiency and conservation.
She is on the steering committee of the California Urban
Water Conservation Council and the Western Water Alliance.
She is currently at work on a study of the potential for
improved water efficiency in California.
Contact information: mailto:<firstname.lastname@example.org>,
1 (510) 251-1600
Gary Wolff, P.E., Ph.D., is Principal Economist
and Engineer at the Pacific Institute. He has extensive
experience in sanitation and water supply issues, including
work for the World Bank, Sandia National Laboratories,
and municipal water and wastewater service providers.
Most recently, he reviewed the economics of the controversial
Cadiz water project in Southern California and co-authored
the "The New Economy of Water." He is also analyzing
the economics of water conservation in California for
a forthcoming report.
Contact information: mailto:<email@example.com>,
1 (510) 251-1600
Resources and Ordering Reports
Human Right to Water" is available online (as an
Adobe pdf) at: http://pacinst.org/gleickrw.pdf
on the impacts of climate change on water can be found
to the World's Freshwater Resources" is available
online at: http://pacinst.org/reports/freshwater_threats.htm
New Economy of Water: The Risks and Benefits of Globalization
and Privatization of Fresh Water" is available online
Executive Overview of "Sustainable Use of Water:
California Success Stories" is available online at:
from The World's Water series is available online at:
or Hazard: The Ecology and Future of the Salton Sea"
and more information on the Pacific Institute's Salton
Sea improvement proposal are available at: http://pacinst.org/salton_sea.html
Water: The Uses and Flows of Water in the Colorado River
Delta Region" is available online at: http://pacinst.org/missing_water.htm
Our economic analysis of the Cadiz project can be found
online at: http://pacinst.org/cadiz.html
to the World's Freshwater Resources," "The New
Economy of Water," "California Success Stories,"
and "Missing Water" are also available in print.
Please send a check or money order for $20 ($16 for nonprofits)
with the publication name to the Pacific Institute:
Institute - [Publication Name]
654 13th Street
Oakland, CA 94612
World's Water 2000-2001 and The World's Water 1998-1999
are both available from Island Press (http://www.islandpress.com/).
The World's Water 2002-2003 will be available in early