Study Reveals 37 Countries at High Levels of 'Water Stress'

The search for adequate freshwater in a world with an exponentially growing human population is a major sustainability issue. To make matters worse, The World Resources Institute, a research organization focused on natural resources, recently examined water supply and demand, and flagged 37 countries across the globe as facing “extremely high levels” of baseline water stress. In these countries, more than 80 percent of available water for domestic, industrial, and agricultural use is sucked up every year. It’s a precarious position to be in.

Water stress isn’t always a case for hopelessness. Though Singapore ranks among the highest-stressed countries on WRI’s rankings -- with no freshwater lakes or aquifers, and a dense population -- the country has already begun investing in technology to meet its water needs. Rainwater is captured, gray water is reused, and some seawater is desalinated to reduce the amount of water that needs to be imported.

This article from the International Business Times speculates about water scarcity leading to wars and conflicts, WRI associate Paul Reig thinks differently.

“When you see a number of countries all suffering from high levels of water [stress], it's easy to think that that competition could escalate and turn into conflict,” said Reig. “But we think, more so than conflict, this is going to lead to greater collaboration.”

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