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Water Challenge - a blog by Peter Brabeck-Letmathe

Water management – part three: pricing and other cost-effective solutions to address overdraft

4,500 years of sustainable water management in Oman – can we learn from it?

We risk running out of water long before we run out of oil.

But the crisis can still be avoided. For this, water management and potential shortages must be looked at locally first - global averages are not relevant.

Given the nature of the problem, solutions to the water challenge are not possible company-by-company, along supply chains or linked to products (so-called “footprints”). The approach has to be watershed-based, comprehensive, fact-based and cost effective, rather than one based on ideas on one-fits-all global solutions. In the end - water is local.

Water management – part two: on different users and overuse of freshwater

Water for agriculture – Berri irrigation pumping station in South Australia

In my first part I outlined some basic principles for access to water for basic needs in families and water as a human right. Let me now broaden the perspective by looking at other water users and drivers of their demand, and look into the issue of widespread and increasing overdraft of freshwater.

When talking about water management, tap water often comes to mind first. But the water used in households represents only a small percentage of total freshwater withdrawals for human use, some 10-15%.

Water management – part one: water for survival as a human right

Often when I talk about water management, some people think this means water privatisation. But it is not as simple as that.

I’d like to discuss some of my ideas on this subject in a four-part post, summarising points I’ve made earlier on this blog along the way.

Water management, for me, means using water very carefully according to its value and great importance for individuals and society - making sure there is the highest possible societal outcome from the provision and use of this increasingly scarce resource.

Water shortage “has to become the first priority”

Today’s Financial Times (please note the Financial Times has a paywall) carries an excellent, in depth look by Pilita Clark at “A world without water”, in which I make the case for world leaders to make water scarcity a bigger priority than climate change.

In the piece, which draws on a range of expert views, I argue that this problem is persisting because water is “so undervalued that it is typically used inefficiently – and there is not enough investment to boost supplies”. Regular readers of this blog will recognise this as a consistent theme: the need to set a price for water in order for its essential value to be recognised.