Water is essential for our survival. The field of water resources management will have to continue to adapt to the current and future issues facing the allocation of water. With the growing uncertainties of global climate change and the long-term impacts of management actions, the decision-making will be even more difficult. It is likely that ongoing climate change will lead to situations that have not been encountered. As a result, alternative management strategies are sought for in order to avoid setbacks in the allocation of water resources. Ideally, water resource management planning has regard to all the competing demands for water and seeks to allocate water on an equitable basis to satisfy all uses and demands.
There are a variety of strategies for addressing water challenges, from watershed restoration and efficiency improvements to vegetated swales and green roofs. Because water is deeply linked with economic, environmental, and community wellbeing, many of these strategies can also provide other benefits, such as reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, providing wildlife habitat, and enhancing community livability
Advancement of water management system
Water management continues to progress over time as our understanding of the water cycle evolves, new issues emerge, and societal priorities change. Inclusion of multiple benefits into water management is a necessary continuation in water management that allows for a more holistic systems approach to achieving more sustainable water systems
The current paradigm includes integrated water resources management (IWRM), millennium development goals and the UN’s sustainable development goals, and a greater focus on efficiency, or the “soft path” to water management. There are additional efforts to address water challenges through corporate water stewardship, in which companies are identifying and managing water-related business risks and working to mitigate adverse impacts on the environment and communities. There are a growing number of frameworks and resources for integrated planning and consideration of the multiple benefits of water management strategies.
Water supply, water quality, and flood management improvements are often the primary objectives of water management decisions. Government agencies, businesses, and others have acknowledged the importance of multiple benefits and the potential for multi-benefit approaches to help build partnerships, leverage resources, optimize the value of investments, and garner public support. Communities throughout the globe are examining and advancing water management strategies that achieve multiple benefits, from complete street projects that create safe transportation options for all users and reduce pollutant runoff to water efficiency programs that reduce water and energy demand while increasing in-stream flows.
Various groups have developed tools and resources to assist in identifying and quantifying benefits of water management strategies; however, the tools often focus on a single strategy (e.g., stormwater management or watershed restoration) or a specific geographic region. For this reason, it is difficult to apply insights from the tools to a new project without significant investment of time and resources.
Balancing of water demand
Much effort in water resource management is directed at optimizing the use of water and in minimizing the environmental impact of water use on the natural environment. The observation of water as an integral part of the ecosystem is based on integrated water resource management, where the quantity and quality of the ecosystem help to determine the nature of the natural resources.
Conservation measures to reduce water demand are generally well established, but they often require societal or economic incentives to implement. Although some conservation measures are costly, most compare favorably with measures to increase water supplies. Moreover, water conservation measures invariably have a positive effect on water quality and the environment, if only by minimizing the impacts on freshwater resources and the volumes of wastewater generated by human activities.In urban and rural-domestic sectors.
Successful management of any resources requires accurate knowledge of the resource available, the uses to which it may be put, the competing demands for the resource, measures to and processes to evaluate the significance and worth of competing demands and mechanisms to translate policy decisions into actions on the ground.
Addressing the challenges of water management
Throughout the world, demographic, economic, and technological trends have accelerated our ability to knowingly and unknowingly modify the environment we live in and that sustains us. We humans have become the principal driver of environmental change. Our actions are impacting our global environment, including our climate. This in turn impacts the amounts and spatial and temporal distributions of precipitation that falls on watersheds and the timing of its runoff. Coupled with changes in landscapes, due to growth in food and energy production and from the movement of people into urban centers, we are altering the quantity and quality of our freshwater resources on which we depend to survive, both physically and economically. We depend on water not only for life itself, but indeed for our economic wellbeing as well. Water plays a role in the creation of everything we produce. There are no substitutes and while it is renewable there is only a finite amount of it.
Our planet no longer functions in the way it once did. Earth is currently confronted with a relatively new situation, the ability of humans to transform the atmosphere, degrade the biosphere, and alter the lithosphere and hydrosphere. The challenges of our current decade-resource constraints, financial instability, religious conflict, inequalities within and between countries, environmental degradation-all suggest that business‐as‐usual cannot continue. These challenges to effective planetary stewardship must be addressed and soon. The various parts of the Earth system – rock, water, and atmosphere – are all involved in interrelated cycles where matter is continually in motion and is used and reused in the various planetary processes. Without interlocked cycles and recycling, the components of our Earth could not function as an integrated system.
Today everyone is concerned about the potential water scarcity in the face of increasing, mainly population‐driven, water demands, and its consequences on our energy and food production. The Global Risk Perception Survey conducted among 900 recognized experts by the World Economic Forum reports that the highest level of societal impact over the next 10 years will be from water crises. In recent decades the percentage increase in water use on a global scale has exceeded twice that of population growth. This has led to more, and larger, regions in the world being subject to water stress where the current restricted rates of water use and consumption, let alone the desired rates, are unsustainable. Water demands and supplies are changing. What they will be in the future is uncertain, but it is certain that they will change. Demands are driven in part by population growth and higher per capita water consumption in growing urban, domestic, and industrial water sectors.
By 2050, the world will have to feed and provide energy for an additional 2–2.5 billion people as well as meet the current unsatisfied power needs of a billion. To meet the nutritional needs of this additional population, we should consider the amount of water that is consumed in the production of different goods and, in particular, energy and food. Energy and food security are demands that are particularly critical to water managers. Energy production, water, food security, and climate change are all connected through interactions and feedback. For example, the growing, transportation, processing, and trading of food products require large amounts of water and energy.
International projects involving water transfer often raise concern and controversy. However, one form of “trade,” which is generally accepted without raising special problems, is the natural flow of water among countries sharing a river basin or aquifer. This transaction is normally ruled by political agreements, rather than trade agreements. In practice, only a comparatively small number of agreements for the long distance trade of raw water have been concluded.
Trade in high water consumptive goods from water scarce regions may be economically profitable in the short term but it is not viable in the long term and is a threat to meeting other water related goals. Pollution and environmental degradation are not transferred along with the products to the consumer. They are left behind for the producing country to deal with. Countries will need to revise policies to avoid incentivizing high water use for low value purposes and unsustainable export promotion. This is a very complex issue and requires much more research to find real water‐trade links and to find possible solutions if trade is causing unsustainable water practices and reducing local availability of adequate water resources.
Trade policies and practices need to be aligned with the goal of sustainable water at global, regional and national levels and to support overall gains in water‐use efficiency and providing incentives to countries to produce and trade goods in line with their specific water circumstances, while fully participating in fair, equitable and sustainable trade.
Decision makers want to know what options are available to them that will be robust under any scenario of the future. Our improved understanding of physical and social processes and trends, possible future changes, technologies, and management options and our ability to model them as systems can help us find solutions that can be effective now and adaptable across a wide range of feasible future states.
Scientists, engineers, managers, policy makers and stakeholders must work cooperatively together to identify and develop strategies to sustain largely ignored ecosystem values. A fundamental scientific challenge is to be able to specify the spatial and temporal scales needed to understand and manage for ecosystem resilience and sustainability.
We have the knowledge, the technology, and the economic resources to manage our water resources much more efficiently and effectively than we do today. Scientific research through systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world is continuously adding to our knowledge and tools.
Through research we are learning more about how to preserve ecosystems and their need for water. We know that changes in our behavior and our diets can also have a substantial impact on our water consumption. We know we can reduce the waste of water used to produce food that is discarded in various stages within the entire supply chain, from field to fork, before it reaches our dining room tables. We know how to use less energy, and hence less water needed to create that energy. We have options. We need to make choices. Continued research is needed to help us to identify these continually evolving options and to inform us on their effectiveness.
Societies are responding by implementing mitigation and adaptation measures. Some of these are slow, others are fast; some are leading us in one direction whereas others in another. One of the most dramatic changes that has ever affected society-global warming-and the close link to water-has not yet resulted in an adequate concerted effort to cope with the threats. The result, in terms of climate and water changes, is likely to have a degrading or damaging effect on agricultural systems, natural habitats, and economic systems, in addition to the hydrological cycle itself. Scientific arguments about the seriousness of the consequences of our increased greenhouse gas emissions expressed at international climate meetings are only marginally and slowly influencing political decisions and concrete action.
Adoption of Urban Decision Support System (UDSS)
We have technology to our advantage and we must use it fully. Urban Decision Support System (UDSS) – is a wireless device with a mobile app that uses sensors attached to water appliances in urban residences to collect data about water usage and is an example of data-driven urban water management. The system was developed with a European Commission investment of 2.46 Million Euros To improve the water consumption behaviour of households. Information about every mechanism – dishwashers, showers, washing machines, taps – is wirelessly recorded and sent to the UDSS App on the user’s mobile device. The UDSS is then able to analyse and show homeowners which of their appliances are using the most water, and which behaviour or habits of the households are not encouraged in order to reduce the water usage, rather than simply giving a total usage figure for the whole property, which will allow people to manage their consumption more economically. The focus should be on these types of technological developments.
There are many challenges but we need to address them through planning and full grown responsibility.
Imange and Info Source – pacinst.org, nap.edu, Wiley.com, Fao.org, oecd.org, indiatod ay.in, irrigation.assam.gov.in, economictimes.indiatimes.com, thebetterindia.com