Water is life,
Water gives life.
Without water, life as we know it will cease to exist.
Water IS security.

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What is Water Security?

  
Water is an indispensable commodity for all forms of life. It is an intrinsic part of every community, from the minute phytoplankton (naked to the human eye), to the gigantic whales, elephants, eagles and mankind. Water fuels energy, it dispenses education, powers the economy, builds infrastructure, delivers healthcare, feeds agriculture, distributes culture, quenches the insatiable thirst of development, and endures its own exploitation and degradation. Water influences where people can live, as well as their quality of life.

With an estimated 783 million people worldwide with no access to potable water; tapping into natural storage facilities (groundwater) has become the only viable solution. Current global extractions of groundwater are estimated at 600-700 km³/ yr. Aquifers are being pumped up faster than they can be replenished, not only reducing the amount of water available for human consumption, but threatening the intricate surface-groundwater interaction responsible for sustaining surface waters (especially during drought periods). Thus groundwater supplies are under tremendous threat of exploitation, and degradation. Furthermore, such desperate circumstances give rise to opportunities for conflict amongst societies, communities, municipalities, and even between neighbouring states.

Water is a renewable natural resource, finite in its availability at global, regional and national territorial platforms. Water plays a vital role in food, energy, and economic growth and security, as well as in sustaining health and alleviating poverty. Thus a threat to water (its availability and quality) is a threat to life.

Water is life,
Water gives life.
Without water, life as we know it will cease to exist.
Water IS security.
  
  
Water Security seeks to answer questions related to water availability as well as the quality of what is available.
  • Is there enough supply and storage to sustain the system itself, as well as society?
  • Is the supply reliable? Is it renewable? At what rate is it renewable?
  • What leverage can we get from what is available?
  
Although almost 70% of the earth’s surface is covered in water, 97% of this is the salt water found in oceans, and a further 2.2% is found in the glaciers and ice sheets, which when melted will only cause the sea levels to rise (Davies and Day, 1998). Therefore, the proportion of water that is fit for human consumption (freshwater) makes up less than one percent of the total water covering the earth, and this is made up of ground, surface, and atmospheric water (Davies and Day, 1998).
Surface water

Surface and groundwater provide freshwater supplies for domestic, industrial, and recreational use, as well as for the maintenance of ecosystem services. Though renewable through precipitation, freshwater resources must be protected and conserved in order to safeguard this essential commodity whose availability is limited both in space and time. However, due to urban development coupled with increasing population numbers, municipal and industrial uses of water are rapidly increasing worldwide, thus exhausting the already limited supply of freshwater.  

With the global population estimated to increase by an additional two billion people by the year 2030 (United Nations ,1998), it is vital to find techniques to satisfy humanity's demands for water while safeguarding the life-support functions of freshwater systems (Postel 2010).
The hydrological cycle shows that the amount of water on the earth has been relatively the same throughout history. Freshwater is renewed through precipitation, and this water ends up in rivers, lakes, wetlands, and taken up through soil absorption to increase the groundwater table. A percentage of this is lost through evaporation, as well as through run off to the sea.

With less than one percent of the total water covering the earth and available for all living organisms, freshwater must be protected, conserved and used in a sustainable manner. 
  

Written By Malebo D Matlala 12/5/2015