‘Demand management’ key to urban water security
With global demand for water expected to outpace supply by 40 percent, cities are in a precarious position.
Robert Brears writes for Ambiente Cities that “large-scale, supply-side infrastructural projects” such as dams and reservoirs are often the first choice of cities faced with a water crisis. But these massive projects come with enormous financial and environmental costs.
A better option for many cities is demand management, Brears writes. This approach emphasizes better utilization of existing water supplies. This is achieved through conservation, minimizing loss and waste of water, optimized water use and reduction of consumption levels, the article says. Water utilities can promote conservation through pricing schemes, public outreach and partnerships with major customers.
The downsides of supply-side solutions include disruptions to natural waterways and ecosystems. Transportation costs are higher when water is diverted, and low-quality water may require chemical treatment to make it potable, the article says. There also are political implications when water is redirected within countries and across national borders.