What Are the Main Causes of Water Scarcity (And How to Fix Things)?

While 70 percent of our planet is covered by water, we are still hit really hard by water scarcity. This happens because the resources we can actually use are pretty limited. As a result, there are many reasons affected by water depletion, which struggle with poverty and pollution. To solve this issue, it’s important to understand the causes of water scarcity, as well as its effects.

What Is Water Scarcity?

Water scarcity goes by many names, like water shortage or water crisis, and it highlights a critical situation where there is no water. In simple terms, water scarcity means there aren’t enough resources to serve a particular region with all its water demands.

This includes a series of uses one can have for the resource. It can either be potable water or running water one can use for irrigation or sanitation. If one or more of these uses benefits from scarce water resources, then we can classify the region as affected by water scarcity.

However, this doesn’t always mean that water is non-existent. In some cases, there might be some resources of freshwater available somewhere nearby. However, we get water scarcity whenever these resources are hard to access.

Causes of Water Scarcity

To reach a full understanding of the phenomenon, we first need to know the causes of water scarcity. This way, we can find more solutions to the crisis by knowing which issues to take care of. Here are some of the most common causes of water scarcity, but the list can continue.

1.      Overusing and Overpopulation

Of course, a resource becomes scarce whenever we abuse it and consume way too much of it. Most of the time, this occurs as a result of overpopulation. If there are too many people in a place, they are more likely to consume the resources of that specific place. This puts too much pressure on the sources of freshwater.

However, not only people can consume water. It can happen in areas with a flourishing animal population. While this is great for biodiversity and the environment, it might be too much of a burden for water resources.

2.      Pollution

Pollution is among the main causes of water scarcity. All kinds of toxic substances can easily get into our water system and, once they taint it, we can no longer count on this particular freshwater source. The situation is even more serious in an area with a poor sewage system.

Water pollution can come in many forms. Whatever we spill, starting from industrial oil to agricultural chemicals, can end up in the water we drink. Even displacing our waste improperly can affect these resources, as well as dumping organic matter in rivers or lakes.

3.      Conflicts

Those war-affected areas often face difficulties in getting to freshwater resources. Since these areas are struck by military conflicts, people who live there have to risk their lives if they want some water. Of course, this can easily lead to entire cities being deprived of water and to a much larger number of casualties.

4.      Droughts

This isn’t too common among the causes of water scarcity, but it can often strike certain areas of the world. Some places are more likely to be hit by droughts while, in others, it only happens occasionally. Unfortunately, this is the only cause where there’s nothing you can do about it.

5.      Distance

Some people are just unlucky enough to live too far away from water. This applies to those who live in the desert or in isolated villages, and the closest source of the vital liquid is much too far away. Usually, these people also struggle with poverty, so it’s difficult for them to build a water system that should really work.

Bushes growing on a dry beach, causes of water scarcity

Effects of Water Scarcity

1.      Hunger

Water isn’t essential only for drinking, but also for agriculture. If there’s no water, it’s a lot harder for plants to grow. Therefore, the affected areas are often struck by famine. However, not only people can die of starvation, but also animals as well.

2.      Diseases

When there’s no water, it means people cannot clean their food properly. Living in a dirty environment can ease the spread of diseases that could have been avoided if there was water around. In some cases, people might have access to some water sources, but they are also dirty and can carry microbes a lot easier in the body.

3.      Poverty

There is kind of a vicious circle between poverty and water scarcity. Those people who can hardly access water are usually extremely poor, so they don’t have the necessary means to develop a complex water system. Also, the lack of water doesn’t help them get rid of poverty, so they often end up stuck in this miserable condition.

Fixing Water Scarcity

Knowing the causes of water scarcity is not enough. If we really want to save water, we need to take some serious measures against its excessive consumption. We can at least conserve the resources we have and make use of them as much as possible.

1.      Water Recycling

There are many ways all of us can make better use of our water. Instead of depending on a water system, we can harvest rainwater and then use it for agricultural purposes. Also, when you need to throw some of it away, you can reuse it instead. Water recycling doesn’t only overcome scarcity, but it also helps you save some money.

2.      Improving Sewage Systems

Most pollutants end up in our water via sewers. Therefore, if we can develop a better filtering system that keeps as much of the pollutants away, we will easily get clean drinking water that doesn’t carry any diseases.

3.      Smarter Agriculture

We consume a huge amount of water on irrigation and other agricultural practices, so we need to start by managing them properly. Instead of using excessive quantities of water, we may seek to reduce our consumption. There are many practices that use a lot less water but bring it to its top potential.

4.      Education

In the end, the most important way to overcome the causes of water scarcity is to educate people about it. First of all, they need to be aware that certain areas struggle with limited water resources. Afterwards, you can inform them on various practices to recycle water, but also on how to reduce their water consumption. Anything gets easier once you are informed.

Summing Up

Knowing the causes of water scarcity is a first step towards solving this crisis. If we know the source of the problem, it’s a lot easier to intervene and take the suitable measures to solve it. One step at a time, we might get closer to a world where people don’t have to struggle with limited water resources, who can thrive and be healthy in a society where they get all they need.

Image sources: PxHere

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William E. Eubanks

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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