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Great Lakes Article:

The Globe and Mail
posted 12/06/2002

John Briscoe, senior water adviser at the World Bank, is blunt when he describes the looming water shortage: Unless people learn to use water more efficiently, there won't be enough fresh water to sustain the Earth's population. "If nothing happens, the situation is really quite terrifying," he said. "Without innovation, you're dead."

The coming water crisis is partly driven by population growth. But even more, it stems from a spirited overuse of the Earth's fresh water for agriculture, industry and all sorts of uses that turn good water bad.

The Sri Lanka-based International Water Management Institute projected earlier this year that by 2025, only about a quarter of the world's population will have enough fresh water. Roughly a third of the world's population will have too little water to meet their needs. That includes people in Pakistan, Syria, Egypt, Israel, South Africa and half of India and China. This figure even takes into account that these countries will learn to use water more efficiently.

As well, about 40 per cent of the world's people will experience serious financial and development problems in their quest to find the increased amounts of water required. Among those countries are Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Nigeria and Turkey, as well as large parts of India and China.

In fact, even those frightening projections may underestimate the problem. Most scenarios don't take into account the effects of global warming. When that's taken into account, even such water-rich countries as the United States and Canada may be in for some trouble.

From the point of view of the World Bank's Dr. Briscoe, a big part of the solution is to make the cost of water reflect its value. Now, people use it virtually for free.
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