Born August 20, 1936, in Lake City, Minnesota, he died suddenly and peacefully on April 15, 2016. Surviving family members, Joyce Lanford, sister, Glori (Jerry) Robison, sister. Survived by a dear friend, Monika Dalrymple; several nephews and nieces. Graduated from IIT. PhD in metallurgic engineering by age 24. Started working for US Steel in the research department in 1960. Worked Westinghouse Electric, again in the research department until he retired from there in 1990. He was a member of the AYH starting 1960. Then he was very active in the Sierra Club and was their outings chair for many decades. He wrote several research studies on environmental changes, soil erosion and over population and other environmental concerns which are listed on his website. Look on Google under Bruce Sundquist to find website. He added a significant amount of new information to the Monroeville Library. He dedicated his life to the betterment of humanity and the many challenges we face to preserve our planets resources. He was a giant of a man, but very humble and he left a very small footprint.
Part [B7] ~ Water Use ~ Asia Generally ~
Go to Top of this Review's Reference List
Go to Irrigated Land Degradation: A Global Perspective (Table of Contents)
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TABLE OF CONTENTS ~
(6-B) ~ Regional Water Supplies and Use ~ Asia and Europe ~ [B1]~Asian Sub-continent ([B1a]~Bangladesh, [B1b]~India, [B1c]~Pakistan, [B1d]~Sri Lanka) [B2]~Far East, [B3]~Middle East, ([B3a]~Iran, [B3b]~Iraq, [B3c]~Israel, [B3d]~Jordan, [B3e]~Lebanon, [B3f]~Palestine, [B3g]~Saudi Arabia, [B3h]~Syria, [B3i]~Egypt, [B3j]~Turkey, [B3k]~Yemen, [B3l]~Qatar, [B3m]~Pakistan) ~ [B4]~Southeast Asia, [B5]~Europe, [B6]~Russia and Central Asian Republics, [B7]~Asia in General,
(6-C) ~ Regional Water Supplies and Use ~ Africa and Australia ~
(6-D) ~ Regional Water Supplies and Use ~ North and South America ~
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ir6
~~ Actual Renewable Water Resources (km3 and m3/ person)
~~ Annual Water Withdrawals (km3 and m3/ person) (2000)
~~ Annual Water Withdrawals by Sector in 2000 (Agriculture, Industry, Domestic)
~~ Water Withdrawals (m3/ ha) in 2000
An overview of the Earth's water budget is contained in Ref. (80A1).
A global map plotting annual precipitation, minus evaporation, is in Ref. (92P1) (1977 UNESCO data).
Part [A1] ~ Global Overview ~ Water Inventories
One estimate of global water distribution:
|Water source||Water volume, cubic miles||Water volume|
|Percent of fresh water||Percent of total water|
|Oceans, Seas, & Bays|
|Ice caps, Glaciers,|
& Permanent Snow
|Ground Ice & Permafrost|
|Country||Annual Renewable Water|
Resources (km3/ year)
According to the Pacific Institute for Studies on Development, Environment and Security, North Americans have access to over 6,000 m3/ person/ year stored in reservoirs. The poorest African countries have less than 700, and Ethiopia has less that 50 m3/ person/ year of water storage (09U1).
Global water markets (drinking water distribution, management, waste treatment, agriculture) are a nearly $500 billion market and growing rapidly (08C1).
Global freshwater consumption is nearly 4,000 km3/ year and is expected to increase by 25% by 2030 (2007 report by the Sustainable Asset Management group investment firm) (08C1).
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a UN network of scientists, said in 2008 that, by 2050, up to 2 billion people worldwidecould be facing major water shortages (07S3).
The FAO said that two-thirds of the world's population could be threatened by water shortages by 2025. Today 1.2 billion people live in areas with insufficient water and an additional 0.5 billion could soon face shortages. Climate change and pollution are making it difficult for southern countries to provide themselves with food. Africa has 9% of the planet's water resources, but uses only 3.8%. Water resources on the African continent are not well-distributed. Lake Victoria, Africa's largest freshwater reserve, fell two meters below normal in 2005. ("Two-Thirds of World Population Could Face Water Shortage in 2025: FAO," Age, (3/22/07)). (su4)
Many rivers in irrigation-dependent regions of the world are already over-appropriated beyond the requirements of the aquatic ecosystems. Our assessment, following the assumptions earlier made by IWMI, suggests that irrigation might not contribute more than 270 km3/ year by 2015 (520 km3/ year by 2030, 725 by 2050). The remaining water requirements will have to be met in other ways (05F1).
See a listing of large databases in Chapter 8 Section (8-E) for sources of tabulations of:
~ Irrigated area irrigated with surface water (%), by country
~ Irrigated area irrigated with ground water (%), by country
~ Irrigated area irrigated with non-conventional sources (%), by country
~ Total population, rural population, urban population, by country
~ Agricultural water use (km3/ year and %), by country
~ Domestic water use (km3/ year and %), by country
~ Industrial water use (km3/ year), by country
~ Total water use (km3/ year), by country
~ Use of improved water sources (% of population) in 2002 (urban and rural) by country
~ Annual Renewable water resources (Total in km3) (per-capita in m3/ person) by country
~ Annual water withdrawals (Total in km3) (per-capita in m3/ person) by country
~ Annual water withdrawals by sector in 2000 (agriculture, industry, domestic) by country
~ Water withdrawals (m3/ha) in 2000, by country
Global precipitation rate: 110,000 km3/ year. About 2/3 of this precipitation is evaporated (transpired) into the atmosphere, leaving 40,000 km3/ year to flow to the sea via rivers, streams and underground aquifers ("groundwater"). Some 55 rivers in northern North America, Europe and Asia, with a combined flow of 5% of global runoff, are so remote that they have no dams on them. About 75% of the global runoff (i.e. 30,000 km3/ year) is in the form of floodwater. Large dams, which can hold 14% of the annual runoff, have increased the stable supply of water provided by underground aquifers and year-around river flow by nearly 1/3, bringing the total stable, renewable supply of freshwater to 14,600 km3. Of this total, 12,500 km3 is within reach, geographically and so is accessible for irrigation, industrial and household use (96P3). (su4.doc)
In developing countries, 90-95% of sewage and 70% of industrial wastes are dumped untreated into surface waters where they pollute usable water supplies (Ref. 15 of (02B2)).
In 2001, 2.3 billion people (about 38% of the world population) live in water basins that are at least stressed; 1.7 billion people live in water basins where scarcity conditions prevail. By 2025 these numbers will be 3.5 billion and 2.4 billion respectively (02B2).
In any given year, 54% of the available freshwater is used (01M1). Comment: How much is consumed? Answer is somewhere in this document. About 75% of water use is in irrigation.
Only 2.5% of all water on Earth is fresh water. Of that, 0.5% is accessible to people through ground water and surface water supplies (01M1).
Water evaporated from the ocean/ sea/ river surfaces takes about 10 days to fall again as rain (01P1) (90B2).
Some 160 km3 of water evaporates each day from the land surfaces of the Earth (58,440 km3 / year) (a 39 cm depth of water from the land if the removal were the same from each unit area of land) (01P1) (90B2).
About 0.001% of the Earth's total water resides in the atmosphere at any point in time - enough to deposit about 1 inch of rain if it fell uniformly throughout the world (01P1) (90B2).
Every 3100 years a volume of water equivalent to all the oceans passes through the atmosphere (01P1) (90B2).
For the 93 countries, irrigation water withdrawal is expected to grow by 14%, from the current 2128 km3/ year to 2420 km3/ year in 2030 (Table 4.10) (03B1). This increase is low compared to the 33% increase projected in harvested irrigated area, from 2.57 million km2 in 1997/1999 to 3.41 million km2 in 2030 (Table 4.8) (03B1) (Bruinsma, FAO).
In a survey of irrigation and water resources in the Near East region, it was estimated that the amount of water required to produce the net amount of food imported in the region in 1994 would be comparable to the total annual flow of the Nile River at Aswan (03B1).
The findings of the present study indicate that in developing countries, as in the past but even more so in the future, the mainstay of food production increases will be intensification of agriculture in the form of higher yields, more multiple cropping and reduced fallow periods (03B1).
The overall result for yields of all the crops covered in this study (aggregated with standard price weights) is roughly a halving of the average annual rate of growth over the projection period as compared to the historical period: 1.0%/ year during 1997/99 to 2030 against 2.1%/ year during 1961-99 (03B1).
Table 4.10 - Annual Renewable Water Resources (RWR) and Irrigation Water Requirements (03B1)
Column 1: Sub-Saharan Africa ~ ~ ~ | Col. 4: South Asia
Col. 2: Latin America/ Caribbean ~ | Col. 5: East Asia
Col. 3: Near East/ North Africa~ ~ | Col. 6: All developing countries
Column - - - - - - - - - - - | ~1 | ~2~ | 3 | 4~ | 5~ | 6 .Precipitation (mm)-~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | 880| 1534|181|1093|1252| 1043
Internal RWR (km3)-~ ~ ~ ~ ~ |3450|13409|484|1862|8609|28477
Net incoming flows (km3)-~ ~ | ~ 0| ~ ~0| 57| 607| ~ 0| ~ ~0
Total RWR (km3)- ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ |3450|13409|541|2469|8609|28477
Irrigation water withdrawal
Irrigation efficiency (1998)%| ~33| ~ 25| 40| ~44| ~33| ~ 38
Irrig.water withdrawal(1998)*| ~80| ~182|287| 895| 684| 2128
- ~idem as a % of RWR~ ~ ~ ~ | ~ 2| ~ ~1| 53| ~36| ~ 8| ~ ~7
Irrigation efficiency (2030)%| ~37| ~ 25| 53| ~49| ~34| ~ 42
Irrig.water withdrawal(2030)*| 115| ~241|315|1021| 728| 2420- ~idem as a % of RWR~ ~ ~ ~ | ~ 3| ~ ~2| 58| ~41| ~ 8| ~ ~8
Note: RWR for all developing countries exclude regional net incoming flows to avoid double counting.
"Irrigation efficiency" is defined as the fraction of irrigation water actually consumed by crops.
China, India, Saudi Arabia, North Africa, and the US over-pump and deplete aquifers at 160 billion cubic meters annually. Since it takes it takes 1,000 tons of water to produce 1 ton of grain, this 160-billion-ton water deficit is equal to 160 million tons of grain, or 50% of the US grain harvest. Some 480 million of the world's 6 billion people are being fed with grain produced with non-sustainable use of water. About 70% of the water consumed worldwide is used for irrigation; 20% by industry, and 10% for residential purposes. The rural-to-urban migration occurring throughout most of the developing world means that residential use of water triples due to indoor plumbing. (See the document on the informal economy elsewhere in this website.) If we stabilized water tables everywhere by simply pumping less water, the world grain harvest would fall by 160 million tons, or by 8% (World Watch (6/21/00)). (su4)
Population pressures under 600 persons/ flow-unit (P/FU; 1 FU=1 million cubic meters) are not considered a serious issue, although water quality problems and dry season supply problems may occur. Between 600-1000 P/FU, chances of more recurrent quantitative or/ and qualitative supply problems increase notably: this is called the "water stress" stage. Between 1000-2000 P/FU such problems are common and affect human and economic development; this is the "scarcity" stage. 2000 P/FU is seen as the maximum population pressure that can be handled in the present state of technology and management capabilities; it has been labeled "water barrier". This scale was developed from the observation of areas where both per-capita supplies and resource use problems were well documented (96M2).
Total volume of fresh water on land and in air: 8.5 million km3. 8.3 million km3 are ground water, 0.126 million km3 occur in lakes, rivers and streams. The balance (0.074 million km3) is atmospheric vapor, soil moisture and seepage (80C2) (Water Resources of the World data). Comments: This breakdown appears to neglect freshwater in glaciers and ice caps, e.g. Greenland.
Global Water Resource Summary (03W1) (UNESCO; Internationally Shared Aquifer Resources Management)
Oceans ~ ~ ~ ~ | 96.50%
Fresh water~ ~ | ~2.53%
Brackish water | ~0.97%Total Water~ ~ |100.00%
Global Fresh Water Resource Summary (03W1) (UNESCO: Internationally Shared Aquifer Resources Management)
Glaciers/ permanent snow | 69.600%
Ground water ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | 30.100%
Lakes, marshes, swamps ~ | ~0.290%
Soil Moisture~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | ~0.050%
Atmosphere ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | ~0.040%
Rivers ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | ~0.006%
Living Organisms ~ ~ ~ ~ | ~0.003%Total Fresh Water~ ~ ~ ~ |100.089%
Of the world's water supply, 97.5% is salt water. Most of the remaining 2.5%, fresh water, is in glaciers and ice caps, unavailable for use by living things. 0.77% is in lakes, rivers, swamps, and aquifers, or in the atmosphere, or in soils and plant tissues (98S3).
Only 2.5% of the world's water is not saline. Of that, 2/3 is locked up in ice-caps and glaciers. 20% of what is left is in remote areas and virtually all of the rest - monsoons, storms and floods - comes at the wrong time and place. (Agence France Presse "Major Water Crisis Looms", 3/13/00) (World Commission on Water for the 21st century data).
About 20% of the water running to the sea (presumably via either surface water runoff or via aquifers) is too remote to supply any cities or farming regions. About 50% runs off to the sea in the form of floods. Much of the remainder occurs in regions where abundant rainfall makes irrigation unnecessary (96P2).
Average recycling time for ground water: 1400 years (00S1).
Average recycling time for river water: 20 days (00S1).
About 97% of the planet's liquid freshwater is in aquifers (00S1). Comments: Does this include glaciers and ice-caps? No, it says "liquid".
Present storage capacity of large dams: 5,500 km3, of which 3,500 are actively used in regulation of run-off (96P2). (See the soil degradation review for much more data on dams.) Comments: In the soil degradation review it talks about a capacity of the world's dams being 6000 km3 or more, but this figure could include both large and small dams.
Renewable Fresh Water Resources (1998) (in units of 1000 cubic yards/ capita/ year) (Wall Street Journal (6/3/99)) (WRI data) (98B3)
Canada ~ |122.7
Brazil ~ | 40.8
Russia ~ | 37.8
US ~ ~ ~ | 11.7
China~ ~ | ~2.9
Comments: Canada is said to have 20% of the world's fresh water, but Canadian officials contend that, if glaciers and polar ice caps are ignored, Canada has only 9% of the world's renewable fresh water resources. British Columbia and Alberta have banned exports of bulk fresh water, and the Canadian government is planning to (Wall Street Journal, 2/11/99).
"Global Water Outlook to 2025: Averting an Impending Crisis" presents three alternative future scenarios for global water supply and demand, and food production and consumption, based on the results of the IMPACT computer model. Only one of the 3 scenarios is given below (02I1).
BUSINESS-AS-USUAL SCENARIO Projections:
By 2025, water scarcity will cause annual global losses of 350 million metric tons of food production - slightly more than the entire current US grain crop.
Consumption of water for all non-irrigation uses will rise by 62%.
Household water use will increase by 71%, of which more than 90% will be in developing countries.
By 2025 industrial water demand in the developing world will exceed the demand in developed countries.
Water scarcity will cause substantial shifts in where the world's food is grown. Developing countries will dramatically increase their reliance on food imports. In sub-Saharan Africa, grain imports will more than triple. Poor countries, unable to finance imports, will experience increased hunger and malnutrition.
Water scarcity is defined as less than 1000 m3 of water available/ person/ year, while water stress means less than 1500 m3 of water is available/ person/ year (99S1).
In the last 50 years, global demand for water has tripled with the rapid worldwide spread of powerful diesel and electrically driven pumps that can pump ground water (02E1).
When the Soviets decided, after a poor harvest in 1972, to import grain rather than tighten their belts, world wheat prices climbed from $1.90/ bushel in 1972 to $4.89 in 1974 (02B1). Comments: The point here is that 1 ton of wheat requires 1000 tons of water and 1 ton of wheat is more transportable than 1000 tons of water. So water shortages translate readily into wheat shortages and the demand elasticity of wheat is very low. (See below.)
Some 70% of world water use, including all the water diverted from rivers and pumped from underground (aquifers), is used for irrigation. Thus if the world is facing a water shortage, it is also facing a food shortage. Water deficits, which are already spurring heavy grain imports in numerous smaller countries, may soon do the same in larger countries, such as China or India. Even with over-pumping of its aquifers, China is developing a grain deficit. (Comments: But it is not yet (2002) a net importer.) After rising to an historical peak of 392 million tons in 1998, grain production in China fell below 350 million tons in 2000, 2001, and 2002. The resulting annual deficits of 40 million tons or so have been filled by drawing down China's grain reserves. But if this continues, China will be forced to turn to the world grain market (02B1).
Scores of countries are running up regional water deficits, including nearly all of those in Central Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa, plus India, Pakistan, and the US. Historically, water shortages were local, but shortfalls can cross national boundaries via the international grain trade. Water-scarce countries often satisfy growing needs of cities and industry by diverting water from irrigation and importing grain to offset resulting loss of production. Since a ton of grain equals (requires) 1000 tons of water, importing grain is the most efficient way to import water (02B1).
The assessment in an unclassified CIA report called "Global Trends 2015," makes a number of predictions about the global political landscape. In terms of global resources, the report concludes that by 2015, nearly half of the world's population - more than 3 billion people - will be in countries lacking sufficient water. The 70-page report is one result of an unusual 15-month collaboration between the National Intelligence Council, a sort of analytical think tank of senior intelligence officials that works alongside the CIA, and dozens of outside scientific, diplomatic and corporate experts (00U1) (00C1).
In 2015 nearly 3 billion out of the estimated global population of 7.5 billion people will find it difficult or impossible to find water for food, industry and personal needs. Today's trouble zones are Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China, Iran, Israel, Jordan, and Syria. According to John Gannon, a former assistant director of the CIA and former chairman of the National Intelligence Council, water scarcity now constitutes "a significant issue in security" as water shortages "encourage refugee movements which, if they spill over into other countries, can engage us." "If people don't have water, they can't live. They are going to move or they are going to die." According to the CIA report "Global Trends 2015" none of the proposed solutions - importing water, water conservation, expanded use of desalinization of seawater, or developing genetically modified crops that use less water or more saline water - will be sufficient to substantially change the outlook for water shortages in 2015 ("Water Shortages Could Be New Cause of Conflicts", Scripps Howard News Service, 12/12/01) (00C1).
Part [A2] ~ Global Overview ~ Water Supplies ~ Runoff ~
Canalization (channelization?) of rivers and other natural water bodies was responsible for more than 100,000 deaths (worldwide) during the 1990s, due to floods that caused $243 billion in damage (05F3).
Global Runoff and Population, by Continent, 1995 (96P3).
Region- - - - - - -|Runoff~ |Share of| Share of
- - - - - - - - - -|km3/year|Runoff~ |PopulationEurope ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | 3240 ~ | ~8%~ ~ | 13%
Asia ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ |14550 ~ | 36 ~ ~ | 60
Africa ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | 4320 ~ | 11 ~ ~ | 13
North & C. America | 6200 ~ | 15 ~ ~ | ~8
South America~ ~ ~ |10420 ~ | 26 ~ ~ | ~6
Australia, Oceania | 1970 ~ | ~5 ~ ~ | <1Totals ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ |40700 ~ |101 ~ ~ |100
Global runoff estimates range from 33,500-47,000 km3/ year. The estimate of L'Vovich et al (Ref. 6 of (96P2)) (40,700 km3/ year) is in the middle of the range (96P2). Comments: More details on this are in the review of soils degradation.
Average runoff worldwide: 39,500-42,700 km3/ year ((99F1), p. 31) ((97S1), p. 13). Most of this runoff occurs in flood events or is otherwise not accessible to human use. Only 9000 km3/ year is readily accessible to humans, and an added 3500 km3 is stored in reservoirs ((97W1), p. 7). Comments: The reservoir storage datum may be obsolete. More recent figures are in the vicinity of 6000 km3 (See Soil Degradation Review).
Evaporation lifts 500,000 km3/ year of water into the atmosphere - 86% from oceans, 14% from land (92P1).
Continents lose water at 70,000 km3/ year from evaporation, but gain 110,000 km3/ year through precipitation. The net, 40,000 km3/ year = 7400 m3/ person (92P1). About 2/3 of this 40,000 km3 runoff in the form of floods, leaving 14,000 km3/ year of stable surface water supply (92P1).
Rivers that no longer reach the sea for at least parts of the year (99P1)
Yellow ~ ~ | (China - see elsewhere in this review document)
Ganges ~ ~ | (Asian sub-continent)
Indus~ ~ ~ | (Asian sub-continent)
Nile ~ ~ ~ | (Northeast Africa)
Amu Darya~ | (Central Asia)
Syr Darya~ | (Central Asia)
Chao Phraya| (Thailand)
Colorado ~ | (Southwestern North America)
Rio Grande | (Southern US) (From another reference - see elsewhere.)
The inaccessible remote flows of the Amazon (95% of total flow = 5387), Zaire-Congo (50% of total flow = 662) and northern tier undeveloped rivers (95% of total flow = 1725) amounts to 7,774 km3/ year (19% of total annual run-off). This leaves 40,700-7,774 = 32,900 km3/ year of accessible river flow (96P2). About 11,100 km3/ year of global run-of (27% of total) is renewable groundwater and base river-flow (Ref. 6 of (96P2)). So 0.27x 7,774 = 2100 km3/ year is renewable groundwater and base river flow in inaccessible remote areas (96P2).
Arid and semi-arid zones of the world receive 2% of the world's runoff, even though they occupy 40% of the terrestrial area ((97W1), p. 7). Comments: Transpiration losses are a large fraction of rainfall in arid and semi-arid regions.
For 82% of the world' agro-ecosystems, rainfall is the sole source of water for agricultural production ((00W1), p. 66).
Some 40% of developing-world farmers depend upon regular flows of rivers and streams to irrigate their croplands (96M1).
Part [A3] ~ Water Supplies ~ Dam Construction
Since 1950, the number of large dams (those over 15 meters high) has increased from 5,000 to 45,000 worldwide. Reservoirs increase evaporation. The annual loss of water from a reservoir in arid or semiarid regions, where evaporation rates are high, is typically equal to 10% of its storage capacity. The Colorado River now rarely makes it to the sea. With the states of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and, most important, California depending heavily on the Colorado's water, the river is simply drained dry before it reaches the Gulf of California (07B1).
In Southeast Asia the flow of the Mekong River is being reduced by the dams being built on its upper reaches by the Chinese. The downstream countries, including Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Viet Nam (168 million people) complain about the reduced flow of the Mekong, but this has done little to curb China's efforts. The same problem exists with the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, which originate in Turkey and flow through Syria and Iraq en route to the Persian Gulf. This river system is being over-used. Large dams erected in Turkey and Iraq have reduced water flow to the once "fertile crescent," helping to destroy more than 90% of the formerly vast wetlands that enriched the delta region (07B1).
Of the 980 large dams in sub-Saharan Africa, 589 are in South Africa, whereas Tanzania only has two large dams ("Water Stress in Sub-Saharan Africa," Council on Foreign Relations, 8/7/06.).
From the 1950s to the mid-1970s, about 1000 large dams came on line annually. By the early 1990s, about 260 large dams were being completed annually (99P1).
Construction begins on 170 dams/ year around the world (92P1). Comments: Probably refers to large dams, not all dams.
Only one of Japan's 109 major rivers remains non-dammed (Ref. 2 of (92P1)).
An average of 360 dams/ year were built in the world between 1951-1974 (Ref. 4 of (92P1)) (93P2).
The number of dams under construction in 1993 rose 9% to 1240 after a much smaller increase in 1992. In the 1980s, dam construction worldwide averaged less than half of the preceding 25 years (95G2).
The World Bank was involved with an average of 18 dam projects/ year during 1980-1985, and 6/ year during 1986-1993 (95G2).
Construction of dams higher than 100 meters rose 27% during 1991-1993. Half of these structures were built in Japan, China and Turkey (95G2).
A USGS study notes that new dam construction might increase that supply by 0.33%/ year over the next 30 years, but population is expected to grow at four times that rate (98S3). Comments: It is not clear whether the USGS study accounts for the rate of filling of dam backwater storage volume with sediments - 0.5-1.0%/ year. The term "supply" might refer to storage capacity - but then again it might not.
Leading Builders of Big Dams (higher than 10 meters) (95G2)
Col. 2 - 1993 Dam starts: Col. 3 - Dams Under Construction
Country|Col.|Col.| Country |Col.|Col.
- - - -| 2~ | 3~ | - - - - | 2~ | 3China~ | 85 |311 | Italy ~ | 0~ | 37
Turkey | 84 |190 | Tunisia |16~ | 28
Japan~ | 11 |140 | Algeria | 6~ | 27
S.Korea| ~2 |125 | Iran~ ~ | 1~ | 76
India~ | 48 | 76 | Thailand| 7~ | 17
USA~ ~ | 30 | 55 | Greece~ | 3~ | 14
Spain~ | 16 | 53 | France~ | 8~ | 12
Romania| ~0 | 39 | Brazil~ | 4~ | 12
Comments: Total dam starts are about 1% of large-dam inventory.
Part [A4] ~ Water Supplies ~ Dam Inventory ~
More than 85% of the large dams now standing have been built during the past 35 years (96P3).
Nearly 1000 large dams were constructed every year from the 1950s through the mid-1970s. The number dropped to about 260 during the early 1990s (96P3).
Australia's Dam Storage Capacity in 1990 (in km3) (01P1):
Australian Capital Territory 0.125 / South Australia 0.267 / Northern Territory 0.275 / Western Australia 7.011 / Queensland 9.459 / Victoria 12.226 / Tasmania 24.167 / New South Wales 25.389 / (Total = 78.919).
Of the world's 45,000 large dams, 22,104 are in China; 6,390 are in the US and just over 4,000 in India. China is planning a series of giant dam cascades across rivers such as the Mekong, the Salween and the Bramaputra that are vital to the prosperity of Southeast Asia. If as a result these rivers end up disappearing like the Yellow, the Huai or the Hai in China, the consequences will be incalculable. ... Hydropower enthusiasts say that if China does not keep building dams at a furious rate, tripling capacity from 60 giga-watts to 171 gigawatts by 2020, it will be forced to burn more coal, with dire consequences for the world's atmosphere." (Continued below)
** "China now ranks second globally to the US in installed electricity capacity (338 giga-watts in 2000) but its use of electricity is just 38% of the world's average. If, by 2050, its population peaks at 1.6 billion and per-capita energy use reaches the world average, it will be adding the generating capacity of Canada every four years. China currently burns more than a billion tonnes of coal a year to produce 75% of its energy. Even the most optimistic assumptions foresee coal consumption growing by about 5%/ year. China has unveiled ambitious plans to cut its reliance on coal to about 55% of its energy needs. By 2030 coal is expected to provide 62%, oil 18%, natural gas 8%, hydropower 9%, and nuclear power 3% of China's energy consumption. By 2050, Chinese planners believe coal consumption should be down to 35% of consumption, with oil and natural gas accounting for 40-50% and primary energy sources such as nuclear, hydro, solar and wind power accounting for 15-20%. ... By 2030 oil is scheduled to supply 18% of China's needs - making it as important a consumer of Middle Eastern oil as Japan or the US." (China: Collision between population and the environment, Asia Times (8/23/03)
There were 5000 large dams (more than 15 meters high) worldwide in 1950. There are now 45,000 (02U3).
Some 40,000 large dams (over 15 meters high) now exist in the world, vs. 5000 in 1950. Small dams number about 800,000 (99P1).
Collectively, dams worldwide have a storage capacity of 6,600 km3 ~ 20% of annual volume of floodwater heading for the sea (99P1).
Present storage capacity of large dams: 5,500 km3, of which 3,500 are actively used in regulation of run-off (96P2). So accessible run-off = 11,100 -2,100 + 3,500 = 12,500 km3/ year (96P2).
Worldwide, reservoirs are estimated to be losing storage capacity at 1%/ year (i.e. 66 km3/ year). Replacing this lost storage by building new reservoirs could cost $10-$13 billion/ year, assuming enough new reservoir sites could be found. If sediments had to be dredged out of existing reservoirs, the cost would climb to $130-$200 billion/ year. (K. Mahmood, "Reservoir Sedimentation: Impact, Extent and Mitigation", World Bank, Washington DC, 1987). Comments: These statements are also in the Soil Degradation Review.
Part [A5] ~ Water Supplies ~ Water Use by Humans ~ Total ~
Table 1. Water Import Dependence in Selected Countries during 1997-2001.
Withdrawals per person are in units of cubic meters/ person.
Source: UN World Water Development Report
Estimated Global water Demand and Consumption, by Sector, around 1990 (96P3)
The Western US population is 86% urban (01M1).
The rate of population growth in the Western US is 32% in the past 25 years (vs. 19% for the US as a whole) (Pamela J. Case and Gregory S. Alward, Patterns of Demographic, Economic and Value Changes in the Western US: Implications for Water Use and Management, The Western Water policy Review Advisory Commission, Springfield Virginia (1997) p. 7).
Water consumption data (01P1) (m3/ person/ year)
U.S.~ ~ ~ |1100
Israel~ ~ | 100
Egypt ~ ~ | 50-60
Jordan~ ~ | 40-60
Syria ~ ~ | 40-60
Lebanon ~ | 40
Gaza strip| 20
Some 36% of Africa's population lacks safe drinking water and by 2025, one in two Africans will be living with water stress or water scarcity. (Water stress describes a country in which each person has less than 1500 m3/year.) Only 6% of Africa's farmland is irrigated ("Sustainability: Do 'Water Wars' Still Loom in Africa?" InterPress Service (5/15/04)).
The UN said the availability of clean fresh water would be critical for the future because of the escalating population in the world, especially in third world countries. There are up to two billion people without access to safe drinking water and 2.4 billion lack sanitation. More than three million people die every year from unsafe water. Approximately $30 billion/ year is spent on meeting drinking water and sanitation requirements worldwide. An added $14-$30 billion/ year would be needed to meet the targets on water and sanitation ("UN Says World Might Face Immense Water Problem," Business World (Philippines) (10/31/03).)
Globally, water use has roughly tripled during 1950-1990 and is now 4430 km3 - 35% of the accessible supply. At least an additional 20% is used in-stream to dilute pollution, sustain fisheries and transport goods. So humans actually use more than 50% of the accessible water supply (96P3). Comments: The differentiation between "use" and "consumption" is far from clear in this analysis. When water flows through an urban setting (in via water supply pipes, out via sewer pipes) it picks up salt. Going through two urban settings loads the water with enough salt to start to reduce its value as irrigation value. (See details elsewhere in this review document.) It is not clear whether this fact has been taken into account in the above analysis.
Humanity now uses 26% of total terrestrial evapo-transpiration and 54% of runoff that is geographically and temporally accessible (96P2).
One recent study concluded that over 50% of all accessible water was diverted for human use in the mid-1990s (98S3).
Percent of the world's population with improved water supply rose from 79% to 82% in 2000 (03U1).
Some 67% of the world's population will face water shortages by 2025 ("Running on Empty," a Christian relief and development agency Tearfund, based in the UK) (Environment News Service (3/22/01)).
(Supply/ Demand) Most of the 3 billion people projected to be added worldwide by 2050 will be born in countries already experiencing water shortages (02B1).
Worldwide, 41,000 children/ day die because of unsafe water (03U1).
(Water Quality Constraints) 17% of the world's population has no access to safe drinking water (03U1).
(Water Use Trends) Global water use tripled between 1950 and around 2000 (03U1).
(Water Use Trends) Global water consumption rose six-fold from 1900-1995. This is more than twice the rate of population growth (Environment News Service (3/22/01)).
(Water Use Trends) Water withdrawals from rivers and underground reserves have grown by 2.5-3%/ year since 1940, significantly ahead of global population growth (01U1).
Estimated global water use and consumption (km3/ year) (96P2)
Sector - - - - - - -| Use |ConsumptionAgriculture ~ ~ ~ ~ |2880 |1870 (81.8%)
Industry~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | 975 | ~90 ( 3.9%)
Municipalities~ ~ ~ | 300 | ~50 ( 2.2%)
Reservoir losses~ ~ | 275 | 275 (12.0%)
In-stream flow needs|2350 | ~ 0 ( 0.0%)Totals~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ |6780 |2285(100.0%) *
* 18% of 12,500 available runoff
Comments: Reservoir evaporation losses should be apportioned among the other water-consumption categories, suggesting that agriculture accounts for about 93% of water consumption by humans.
(Water Use Trends) Humans withdraw about 4000 km3 of water annually - about 20% of the normal flow of the world's rivers (their non-flood or "base flow") (97S1).
(Water Use Trends) Between 1950 and the mid-1990s, global water use more than tripled (97P3).
Global water uses (municipal, industrial and agricultural) are plotted vs. time (1900-2000) in Fig. 3 of Ref. (96A1).
A plot of global water use (km3/ year) vs. time (1900-1992) is in Ref. (92P1).
Per-capita water consumption is rising twice as fast as the world's population (98S1).
One billion people lack access to safe water, and 2 billion lack proper sanitation. By 2020, water use by humans is expected to increase by about 40%, and 17% more water than is available now will be needed to grow the necessary food. (Agence France Presse "Major Water Crisis Looms" (3/13/00)) (World Commission on Water for the 21st Century data).
(Supply/ Demand) At least 400 million people live in regions with severe water shortages. By 2050, it will be 4 billion (98S1).
(Supply/ Demand) Hydrologist Malin Falkenmark of Sweden, have calculated that in 1990, 28 countries containing 335 million people faced chronic water stress or outright scarcity. By 2025, water shortages may plague up to 52 countries, affecting as many as 3.2 billion people; roughly 40% of the projected global population (98H1).
By 2050, nearly half of the world will have insufficient water. As much as 42% could be facing either water stress (having less than 1700 m3/ year/ person) or scarcity (less than 1000 m3/ year/ person) (98S1).
Parameter - - - - |1995 | 2050
World population# | 5.7 | 9.4
Water Sufficiency | 92% | 58%
Water Stress~ ~ ~ | 5%~ | 24%
Water Scarcity~ ~ | 3%~ | 18%
World water-use is plotted vs. time (1900-93) and broken down by sector (agriculture, industry, municipal, reservoir losses) in Ref. (93P2).
Global water use has tripled since 1950, and is now 4340 km3/ year (92P1) (95P2).
Water Deficits in Key Countries and Regions, Mid-1990s (km3/ year) (99P1)
Region - - -|DeficitIndia ~ ~ ~ |104.0
China ~ ~ ~ | 30.0
US~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | 13.6
N. Africa ~ | 10.0
Saudi Arabia| ~6.0
Other ~ ~ ~ |(40 )(?)Global Total|200.
Number (millions) of People in Countries with less than 1700 m3/ capita/ year runoff (99P1)
Region - - |1995|2025(projection)Africa ~ ~ |295 | 908
Asia ~ ~ ~ | 86 |1957
Middle East| 86 | 185Totals ~ ~ |467 |3050
(Supply/ Demand) 26 nations suffer water scarcity to the extent of limiting food production, economic development, sanitation and environmental protection. The number of such nations is expected to reach 35 (of about 158) by 2020 (Ref. 29 of (96G1)).
(Global Water Use Trends) Human water consumption doubled during 1940-1980, and 1980-2000 will probably see another doubling (93G1).
(Global per-capita water-use): 800 m3/ year - 50% higher than in 1950 and, in most parts of the world, continues to climb (Ref. 1 of (93P2)). Comments: What percent of this is consumptive use?
Two billion people worldwide suffer chronic water shortages (93G1).
Ref. (93G1) contains 217 tables of data on water resources at the global-, regional- and national levels; consumption patterns and trends; water-related diseases and sanitation; pollution, irrigation agriculture, and water laws, policies and politics (93G1).
(Per-Capita Water Use) One estimate of the water requirements for drinking, sanitation, commerce and industry at the Israeli standard of living is 75-150 m3/ person/ year (not counting needs for agriculture) (94G1). Comments: What percent of this is consumptive use?
A country is considered to face water stress when annual water supplies (runoff?) drop below 1700 m3/ person/ year, and faces water scarcity when water supplies are less than 1,000 m3/ person/ year. Today, 31 countries face water stress or water scarcity. By 2025 population growth alone is expected to add another 17 countries to the list. Water shortages would then affect 2.8 billion people, or 35% of the world's projected population compared with 8% today. (Gardner-Outlaw, T. and Engleman, R. "Sustaining water, Eating scarcity: A second update", Washington DC, Population Action International, 1997. pp. 2-19).
Many hydrologists believe that 500 m3/ person/ year is the minimum water supply needed to avoid limiting the options available to a society (Ref. 27 of (94G1)). Comments: A more recent estimate: 1700 m3/ person/ year. (See above) This would give a minimum water requirement for the world's 6 billion people of 10,200 km3/ year. This apparently does not include water needs for pollution dilution of 23,000 km3/ year (98H1).
(Wastewater Data) By 2000, the world is expected to be generating 2,300 km3 of wastewater a year. It takes at least 10 times that amount to dilute pollutants (98H1).
In 2000, 31 countries (combined population: 508 million) were deemed "water-stressed" or "water-scarce" according to "The State of World Population 2001" report (UN Population Fund). Peter Gleick, an expert on global freshwater problems, in an article in the February 2001 edition of Scientific American wrote 'Roughly half the world's population of nearly 6.2 billion "suffers with water services inferior to those available to the ancient Greeks and Romans." Due to the continued increase in population in developing countries the numbers are expected to rise to about 3 billion people living in 41 countries in 2025. About 2.6 billion people in developing countries lack basic sanitation. Almost 1.5 billion do not have access to clean water. These factors together with preventable water-borne diseases kill over 12 million people/ year ("Water, Water (not) Everywhere", Star-Telegram (Fort Worth TX) (11/2/01)).
(Supply/ Demand) The International Water Management Institute predicts that, by 2025, one third of the world's population (2.7 billion people) will face permanent and severe water scarcity, particularly in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa (01U1).
(Supply/ Demand) 26 nations have water supplies inadequate to support their populations. Nine of these are in the Middle East, 11 are in Africa where 300 million people will be living in drought-stricken areas by 2000 (92P1).
Water Availability in 1990 (in m3/ person/ year) (94G1)
Kuwait ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | 75 | Qatar~ | 1171
Saudi Arabia ~ ~ |306 | Oman ~ | 1266
United Arab Emir.|308 | Lebanon| 1818
Jordan ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ |327 | Iran ~ | 2025
Yemen~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ |445 | Syria~ | 2914
Israel ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ |461 | Iraq ~ | 5531
[A5a] ~ Water Supplies ~ Water Use by Humans ~ Non-Agricultural ~
Agriculture accounts for 66% of human water consumption, industry 20%, and domestic households 10%. The remaining 4% of human consumption of fresh water takes the form of evaporation from reservoirs. (World Water Council data) (09U1).
Water can be used indefinitely in cities and by industry if it is recycled. Comments: This appears to be essentially false. Elsewhere in this review it is pointed that water picks up a certain amount of salt every time it goes through the urban cycle. Salty water requires a desalinization plant to remove the salt after a few cycles through the urban cycle, not just the treatment it gets in a normal water treatment plant now used by typical urban areas to treat river water for distribution to customers.
About 1.1 billion people do not have access to clean water worldwide, and 2.4 billion lack access to sanitation (01M1) Comments: By "sanitation" is probably meant some rudimentary sewage system using underground pipes.
(Power Generation) In industrialized countries, 75% of viable water for electricity generation is used; in Africa 3% is so-used ("World Bank Sees Increased Need to Finance Water Infrastructure", Agence France Presse (1/30/03)).
Groundwater Contribution to Drinking Water use, by Region (00S1)
Region- - - -|Pct.|People Served
- - - - - - -| ~ ~|(millions)Asia-Pacific | 32 |1000-1200
Europe ~ ~ ~ | 75 | 200- 500
Latin America| 29 | ~ ~ ~150
US ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | 51 | ~ ~ ~135
Australia~ ~ | 15 | ~ ~ ~ ~3
Africa ~ ~ ~ | ~? | ~ ~ ~ ~?World~ ~ ~ ~ | ~ ~|1500-2000
Sources: UNEP. OECD, FAO, US EPA, Australia EPA
Annual water demand by households and industries in developing countries is projected to climb by 590 km3/ year between 1995 and 2020 (Mark W. Rosegrant, Claudia Ringler, "Impact on Food Security and Rural Development of Reallocating Water from Agriculture for Other uses", Harare Expert Group Meeting on Strategic Approaches to Freshwater Management, Harare Zimbabwe, 1/28-31/98).
[A5b] ~ Water Supplies ~ Water Use by Humans ~ Agricultural ~
About 2000 liters of water are required to produce the food we consume each day (presumably a US diet) (05B1). Comments: Is this water use - or water consumption?
Some 1000 tons of water can produce 1 ton of wheat worth at most $200 - or it can expand industrial output by $14,000 (05B1).
Much of the global growth in water use over the past half-century is from a vast increase in irrigation, which is used to produce 60% of the world's grain. Globally, irrigated area nearly tripled between 1950 and 2003, growing from 940,000 to 2.77 million km2. Irrigated area growth is tapering off as the water needed to expand irrigation becomes increasingly scarce. Forty years ago, irrigated area was expanding at an annual rate of 2.1%, but the last 5 years of data reflect slower growth of 0.4%/ year. Since governments are more likely to report gains from new projects than losses as wells go dry, as rivers dry up, and as irrigation water is diverted to cities, these estimates of irrigated area may be high, and the world's irrigated area may have already peaked. (See Figure <http://www.earth-policy.org/Indicators/Water/2006_data.htm#fig1> and Table <http://www.earth-policy.org/Indicators/Water/2006_data.htm#table1>.)
Most people think of improving water productivity in terms of irrigated agriculture, but efforts should not just focus on the 2500 km3 of water diverted annually to irrigation, but must also include the 4500 km3 depleted in rain-fed agriculture. Rain-fed agriculture contributes to about 60% of cereal production on 70% of the global cereal area (04M1).
Researchers from several leading organizations have explored what they consider to be business as usual or base scenarios of future water supply and demand. Looking at the table below you can see that under all four scenarios, irrigation withdrawals increase by 2025 - but with significant differences in by how much (04M1).
Projected Global Increases in Water Withdrawals for Irrigation (in km3).
Source- - -| Total irrigation withdrawals
- - - - - -|1995| 2025|Increase 1995-2025Shiklomanov|2488| 3097| 24%
IWMI ~ ~ ~ |2469| 2915| 18%
FAO**~ ~ ~ |2128| 2420| 14%
IFPRI~ ~ ~ | ~ .| ~ ~.| *4%
**IFPRI number represents projected increase in irrigation depletion, not in irrigation withdrawals.**FAO (03F1) uses 2030 instead of 2025 as the projection year.
Shiklomanov's projection (2000) (00S2) considers present trends and extrapolates them into the future. The IWMI base case (00S3) projects increases in efficiency and productivity in irrigation, but is pessimistic about the amount of gains from purely rain-fed agriculture (without any supplemental irrigation). It also assumes that most countries will opt for food self-sufficiency rather than rely on trade.
The FAO scenario (2002) (04M1) is slightly more optimistic about gains in rain-fed areas, and thus predicts less need for irrigation.
The IFPRI scenario (04M1) is very optimistic about gains in rain-fed areas, particularly in developed countries, and assumes that global food trade will form a significant part of the solution.
Facts and figures from UNESCO's World Water Assessment Program. (3/03?)
Most of this information is based on figures provided by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Each day, 25,000 people die of hunger.
Water requirement equivalent of main food products
Product - - - - - - - |Unit |Equiv. Water, m3/ unitCattle~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ |head |4000
Sheep/goats ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ |head | 500
Fresh beef~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | kg. | ~15
Fresh lamb~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | kg. | ~10
Fresh poultry ~ ~ ~ ~ | kg. | ~ 6
Cereals ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | kg. | ~ 1.5
Citrus fruit~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | kg. | ~ 1
Palm oil~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | kg. | ~ 2
Pulses, roots, tubers | kg. | ~ 1
This table gives examples of water required per unit of major food products. Extracted from the Executive Summary of the WWDR. FAO, 1997. Water Resources of the Near East Region: A Review. Rome.
Irrigation accounts for 70% of fresh water withdrawals, and 30-60% is returned for downstream use (Stanley Wood et al, report released by International Food Policy Research Institute (2/9/01) [satellite data]). Comments: The salt content of this returned water is likely to be significantly larger that what entered the irrigation systems.
The 2.4-fold increase in world grain-land productivity during 1959-1995 was matched by a 2.2-fold increase in irrigation water use (See p. 165 of (99P1)). Comments: productivity or production??? This statement is hard to interpret.
Some 16% of water supply available to irrigate wheat ends up being lost to evaporation (not including transpiration from wheat) (p.170 of (99P1)). Comments: Ref. (99P1) believes that, since rainfall accounts for 10% of wheat's total water supply, actual loss to evaporation may be less.
(Water Constraints on Irrigation) The International Water Management Institute, a CGIAR laboratory in Sri Lanka, projects that by 2025 as many as 39 countries - including northern China, eastern India, and much of Africa - will be forced to reduce irrigation rather than expand it (99M1).
Approximately 70% - 2800 km3 - out of the 4000 km3 of water humans withdraw from global freshwater systems annually ((97S1), p. 69) is used for irrigation ((97W1), p. 9) Comments: What percent of this is consumptive use?
Globally, crops currently get 70% of their water directly from rainfall, and 30% of their water indirectly - from irrigation (99P1). Comments:About 1/6 of the world's croplands (by area) are irrigated.
(Water Needs Trends) Global food-production needs in 2025 could require up to 2000 km3 of additional irrigation water (99P1).
About 70% of fresh water used by humans, globally, is expended for irrigation (Ref. 55 of (94K1)). Comments: Does "used" mean used or consumed?
Agriculture accounted for 72% of global water withdrawals globally, (87% in developing countries) in 1995 (Ref. 46 of (97P2)).
Farming accounts for 70% of global water use (90P1).
Agriculture accounts for 65% of global water use (92P1).
(Water Use Partitioning) Worldwide, agriculture uses about 65% of all water withdrawn from rivers, lakes and aquifers for human activity. 25% goes to industry, 10% goes to households and municipalities (96P1). Comments: Is evaporation from dam backwaters being neglected here. Or is it buried in another figure? It is not negligible.
Average water application rate to irrigated land: 1.2 million m3/ km2 (Ref. 17 of (96P2)), so for 2.4 million km2 of irrigated land, water demand = 2880 km3/ year. Ratio of consumption to withdrawal is 50-80%, so 0.65x 2880 = 1870 km3/ year consumed by irrigation (96P2).
Agriculture's global water-use has increased 5-fold in the 20th century, while population grew only 3.4-fold. Much of this growth in water-use occurred since 1950 (92P1).
Globally, 3300 km3/ year of water are used to water crops (Ref. 20 of (89P1)) (90P1).
Sugar cane consumes about as much water (rainfall + irrigation) as all the world's fruits and vegetables combined (p. 177 of (99P1)).
(Water Use Trends) There has been little or no growth in global irrigation-water supplies since 1990 (Ref. 20 of (96B1)).
History of Global Irrigation Water Use (km3/ year) (Shiklomanov, 1996) (See plot on p. 166 of (99P1))
Year - - - |1940|1950|1960|1970|1980|1990|1995Consumption| 900|1150|1500|1800|2200|2350|2500
Water Withdrawals (km3/ year) for Irrigation and River Runoff (90W1)
(Column 4 = Consumption (km3/ year)) (Col. 5 = Recycled (km3/ year))
Region- - |Area**| With- Col. Col.|River |Gndwater|Surface
- - - - - |Irrig.|drawal= ~4 ~ ~5 |Runoff|Discharg|RunoffEurope~ ~ | 0.17 | 110 = ~95 + 15 | 2321 = ~845 + | 1476
Asia~ ~ ~ | 1.40 |1300 = 980 +320 |10485 = 2879 + | 7606
Africa~ ~ | 0.11 | 120 = ~85 + 35 | 3808 = 1464 + | 2720
N. America| 0.29 | 330 = 215 +115 | 6945 = 2222 + | 4723
S. America| 0.085| ~70 = ~55 + 15 |10377 = 3736 + | 6641
Australia*| 0.020| ~16 = ~13 + ~3 | 2011 = ~483 + | 1528
USSR(fmr.)| 0.20 | 260 = 180 + 80 | 4350 = 1020 + | 3330World Tot.| 2.275|2206 =1623 +583 |40673 =12689 + |27984
* plus Oceania/ ** million km2
Water required for crops in India (cm./ year) (Table 9 and Refs. 54 and 14 of (81G1))
Sugar Cane|140-250| Ground Nuts|60 ~ |Wheat |20-50
Rice~ ~ ~ |120-180| Sorghum~ ~ |50-70|
Corn~ ~ ~ | 50-80 | Cotton ~ ~ |50-70|
Part [A6] ~ Water Supplies ~ Groundwater Supplies ~
A study from the University of Colorado at Boulder says that most of the world's low-lying river deltas are sinking from human activity (oil / gas drilling, over-pumping aquifers etc.), making them increasingly vulnerable to flooding from rivers and ocean storms and putting tens of millions of people at risk. Some 24 out of the world's 33 major deltas are sinking, and 85% have experienced severe flooding in recent years. About 500 million people in the world live on river deltas. Each year about 10 million people are affected by storm surges ((Author Unknown) "World's River Deltas Sinking Due to Human Activity, Says New Study," (9/21/09) New Scientist.).
More than half the world's people live in countries where water tables are falling (07B1). (SU4) (in food-pop-link.doc)
Emptied underground aquifers can be compressed and result in surface subsidence: a problem that is occurring in Bangkok, Venice and Mexico City (07B1).
Globally, the areas most affected by seawater intrusion into freshwater aquifers include Mexico, the northern portions of the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines (of the US), Chile, Peru and Australia. (Science Daily, "Seawater Intrusion is often the Consequence of freshwater aquifer over-exploitation" (7/29/07)) (SU4)
Sana'a, Yemen's capital, has doubled its population on average every six years since 1972 and now stands at 900,000 people. The aquiferon which Sana'a, Yemen's capital, depends is falling by six meters a year, and may be exhausted by 2010, according to the World Bank (Stephen Leahy, "Environment: Millions Flee Floods, Desertification", I.P.S., Brooklin, Canada (10/12/05)). (su4)
Water tables are falling in countries that contain more than half of the world's population (06H1).
Aquifers are being over-exploited in major food-producing regions, including (1) North China Plain (a region that yields half of China's wheat and one third of its corn), (2) Punjab, Haryana, and other highly productive agricultural states in northern India; and (3) the southern Great Plains of the US, a major grain-producing region. Together, China, India, and the US produce nearly half the world's grain. These 3 countries, plus Pakistan, collectively account for over 75% of the world's reported groundwater extraction for agricultural purposes. Falling water tables in these 4 countries make world food production less sustainable. (See Table of Underground Water Depletion in Key Countries <http://www.earth-policy.org/Indicators/Water/2006_data.htm#fig5> .)
Some of the world's largest cities, including Mexico City, Calcutta, and Shanghai, rely heavily on local groundwater. 30% of China's urban water supply is fed from groundwater. Worldwide, roughly 2 billion people - in both rural and urban environments - rely on groundwater for daily water consumption <http://www.earth-policy.org/Indicators/Water/2006_data.htm>.).
If over-pumping of ground water were to cease, the world's grain harvest would fall by 160 million tons - 8% - unless surface water consumption were increased to compensate (Lester R. Brown, Eco-Economy, W. W. Norton and Co., New York (2001) p. 47). Comments:The usual conversion between water and grain is 1000 tons of water per ton of wheat, so this implies a global groundwater overdraft of 160 billion tons of water per year (about 1.44 km3/ year).
(Ground water Inventory Data) The Guarani aquifer, shared by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay could provide water at 27 gallons/ day to 5.5 billion people for 200 years (03W1).
(Recharge Data) Average recharge rate for the world's aquifers: 0.007%/ year (Ref. 62 of (94K1)).
(Groundwater Depletion Data) The world's continents lose (net) an estimated 190 km3 of groundwater/ year (Ref. 31 of (96G1)) (1994 study). Comments: Postel (99P1) estimates 200 km3/ year (Recharge minus withdrawals).
(Groundwater Depletion Data) 1.5 billion people worldwide rely on groundwater resources, withdrawing 600-700 km3/ year - 20% of globalwater withdrawals ((97S1), pp. 53-54).
Across Africa, Asia, Central- and South America, ground water levels are dropping up to 10 feet a year, due mainly to intensive irrigation. Ground surface levels are sinking in major cities, including Mexico City and Bangkok. Water tables were falling rapidly in South Asia, Mexico and other countries where agriculture relies on irrigation. Two billion people and 40% of agriculture are partly reliant on these hidden stores. Groundwater is rising in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (due to desalinization plants) ("UN: World's Water Supplies Under Threat", Associated Press (6/4/03).)
(Groundwater Depletion Data) In substantial areas of China and India, groundwater levels are falling by 1-3 meters/ year (03N1).
(Groundwater Depletion Data) In some areas, particularly in the Near East/ North Africa region, irrigation draws on fossil aquifers that receive little or no recharge at a level that is not sustainable (94G1) (03N1).
The world's water deficit is recent - a product of the tripling of water demand over the last half-century and the rapid worldwide spread of powerful diesel and electrically driven pumps. The drilling of millions of wells has pushed water withdrawals beyond the rate of recharge of many aquifers (02B1).
Some 5-8% of global irrigated area depends on non-renewable water or on renewable sources that are pumped faster than they are replenished (Ref. 49 of (97G1)). Comments: Much other irrigation water is subject to being reallocated to urban areas.
Groundwater over-pumping is widespread in central and northern China, northwest and southern India, parts of Pakistan, much of the western US, Northern Africa, the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula. Ref. (99P1) believes that groundwater over-pumping may now be a bigger threat to irrigated agriculture than the buildup of salt in the soil.
(Groundwater Depletion Data) 1.5 billion people worldwide rely on groundwater resources, withdrawing 600-700 km3/ year - 20% of global water withdrawals (97S1), pp. 53-4).
(Groundwater Depletion Data) Falling water tables from over-pumping of groundwater are ubiquitous in parts of China, India, Mexico, Thailand, the western US, North Africa, and the Middle East (97P3).
(Groundwater Depletion Data) Underground water tables are falling in the southwestern US, the US Great Plains, several states of India (including the Punjab, the country's breadbasket), in much of northern China, across North Africa, in Southern Europe and throughout the Middle East (96B1).
Groundwater Depletion in Major Regions of the World, Circa 1990 (96P1): (su4)
US High Plains: This aquifer underlies nearly 20% of all US irrigated lands. Net depletion to date = 325 km3; Current depletion rate = 12 km3/ year.
California: Current overdraft = 1.6 km3/ year (2/3 in Central Valley)
Southwestern US: Water tables have dropped over 120 m. east of Phoenix. At current rate, water table will drop an added 20 m. by 2020.
Mexico City and Valley of Mexico: Pumping exceeds natural recharge by 50-80%.
Arabian Peninsula: Groundwater use nearly 3 times greater than recharge. Estimated reservoir lifetime at extraction rate projected for the 1990s = 50 years.
African Sahara: Current depletion rate = 10 km3/ year (3.8 km3/ year in Libya alone).
Israel and Gaza: Pumping from the coastal plain aquifer bordering the Mediterranean Sea exceeds recharge by 60%. Salt water has invaded the aquifer.
Spain: 20% of total groundwater use (1 km3/ year) is unsustainable.
India - Punjab (India's breadbasket): Water tables are falling 20 cm./ year across 2/3 of the Punjab.
India - Gujarat: groundwater levels declined in 90% of observation wells during the 1980s.
North China: Water table beneath Beijing has dropped 37 meters. over the past 4 decades. North China's region of groundwater overdraft covers 15,000 km2.
Southeast Asia: Significant overdrafts have occurred in and around Bangkok, Manila and Jakarta. Over-pumping has caused land subsidence beneath Bangkok at 5-10 cm./ year for the past two decades.
Part [A7] - Water Supplies ~ Desalinization ~
Globally, desalinization produces 4.5 km3 of freshwater per year (date not given). Saudi Arabia's 22 desalinization plants produce 1.5 km3of freshwater per year (01T1).
Saudi Arabia has 22 desalinization plants, capable of producing 0.76 km3/ year - 25% of world production of desalinated water. Florida (1992) will produce 0.346 km3/ year. In 1992, a plant in Yuma AZ will produce 0.1 km3/ year (90U1). About 60% of the world's desalinization capacity (2.8 km3/ year) is in the Arabian Peninsula (91A1).
The total cost of producing potable water from seawater is about $1/ m3. Reclamation of moderately polluted water by reverse osmosis costs about $0.13/ m3. The energy required for reverse osmosis is 3 kWH (/1000 gallons?) in theory, 15-30 kWH (/1000 gallons?) in practice. Worldwide, about 4000 desalinization plants produce 4.7 km3/ year of potable water (91A1).
In early 1990 there were 7500 desalinization facilities producing over 13.2 million m3 of water/ day (4.8 km3/ year). Over 50% of this capacity was in the Persian Gulf region (Ref. 41 of (94G1)).
Desalinization Capacity in the Middle East as of 1990 (94G1) (Capacity in m3/ day)
Country - - - -|Capacity~ |Country|CapacitySaudi Arabia ~ |3,568,868 |Iran ~ |260,609
Kuwait ~ ~ ~ ~ |1,390,238 |Oman ~ |186,741
United Arab Em.|1,332,477 |Israel | 70,062
Libya~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | ~619,354 |Egypt~ | 67,728
Iraq ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | ~323,925 |Jordan | ~8,445
Qatar~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | ~308,611 |Syria~ | ~5,743
Bahrain~ ~ ~ ~ | ~275,767 |Lebanon| ~4,691
Part [A8] ~ Water Supplies ~ Water Recycling ~
In many river basins of the world, especially those that are already experiencing water stress, there is little or no irrigation water being wasted. This due to the prevalence of water recycling and reuse. Egypt's Nile (98M1), (96K1), the Gediz in Turkey (00G1), the Chao Phraya in Thailand (03M1), Bakhra in India (01M2) and the Imperial Valley in California (95K1), are all documented examples. Thus there is less scope for saving water in irrigation than previously thought.
Research suggests that there are low-cost ways to minimize the risks associated with wastewater irrigation and maximize the benefits to the poor (04S1).
At least 5000 km2 of cropland in 15 countries are being irrigated with municipal waste-water (0.2% of the world's irrigated area) (Ref. 27 of (93P2)).
About 70% of Israel's sewage is treated and used as irrigation water for 190 km2 of agricultural land (Ref. 28 of (93P2)).
Israel now reuses 65% of its domestic wastewater for crop production. Treated wastewater accounts for 30% of Israel's agricultural water supply (expected to reach 85% by 2025) (p. 196 of (99P1)).
Part [A9] ~ Water Supplies ~ Irrigation Water-Use Efficiency ~
Global efficiency in land-use has dramatically improved, while agricultural water use efficiency has stagnated due to subsidies, lack of property rights, and government imposed pricing structures that encourage over-exploitation of water resources ((06O1) page 15-32)
Surface water irrigation efficiency ranges between 25 and 40% in India, Mexico, Pakistan and Thailand. It ranges between 40 and 45% in Malaysia, and Morocco. It ranges between 50 and 60% in Israel Japan and Taiwan (05B1).
Traditional furrow irrigation schemes, largely organized by small-scale farmers, cover 80% of irrigated lands in Tanzania's upper Pangani River basin. These methods of irrigation are a major source of conflict because they usually use the water very inefficiently (07M1). (Africa.doc).
As little as 30% of all water diverted into the (irrigation) canals of the Indus River Basin makes it to the root zones of crops.' (page 118 of Ref. (02W1)) (06H2).
In dry areas, deficit irrigation - applying a limited amount of water but at a critical time - can boost productivity of scarce irrigation water by 10 to 20% (03O1).
Of the water used for irrigation, 50-80% is returned to the atmosphere via evaporation or evapo-transpiration or is otherwise lost to downstream users ((93S2), p.19).
Globally, irrigation efficiency (the fraction of irrigation water actually consumed by crops) averaged 43% in 1990 (See Ref. (98S4), p. 25). Irrigation efficiencies in the driest regions run as high as 58%, whereas regions with abundant water supplies have efficiencies as low as 31% ((98S4), p. 25).
Irrigation efficiency in China: 39% ((98S4), p. 25).
Irrigation efficiency in India: 40% ((98S4), p. 25).
Part [A10] ~ Water Supplies ~ Surface Water Supplies ~
Rivers that are drained dry before they reach the sea include Colorado, the major river in the southwestern US, and the Yellow, the largest river in northern China. Other large rivers that either run dry or are reduced to a trickle during dry seasons are the Nile; the Indus, which supplies most of Pakistan's irrigation water; and the Ganges in India's densely populated Gangetic basin. Many of the world's smaller rivers have disappeared entirely (07B1).
More than half the world's 500 mightiest rivers have been seriously depleted. Some have been reduced to a trickle in what the UN warned is a "disaster in the making" (06L1). (su4)
All of the 20 longer rivers of the world are being disrupted by big dams.
One-fifth of all freshwater fish species in the world either face extinction or are already extinct (06L1).
The Nile River and Pakistan's Indus River are greatly reduced by the time they reach the sea (06L1).
The Colorado River and China's Yellow River, now rarely reach the ocean at all (06L1).
The Jordan and the Rio Grande on the US-Mexico border, are dry for much of their length (06L1).
25% of the Britain's 160 chalk rivers and steams - such as the Kennet River in Wiltshire, the Darent River in Kent, and the Wylye River in Wiltshire - are running out of water because too much is being abstracted for homes, industry and agriculture (06L1).
Some 45,000 big dams now block the world's rivers, trapping 15% of all the water that used to flow from the land to the sea. Reservoirs now cover almost 1% of land surface (06L1). Comments: Is this all land (148 million km2) or only ice-free land (131 million km2)?
Half the world's population depends on rivers starting from mountain glaciers as their freshwater source (06H1).
Himalayan glaciers feed 7 major Asian rivers - the Ganges, Indus, Brahmaputra, Salween, Mekong, Yangtze and Huang He - ensuring a year-round water supply for two billion people. But the Himalayan glaciers are retreating (06H1). Comments: Retreating glaciers in the Andes Mountain of South America, the Rocky Mountains of the western US, and Europe's Alps add significantly to the number of people worldwide whose water supplies are being put at risk.
The Chinese Academy of Sciences announced that the Tibetan glaciers are shrinking by 7%/ year. The annual loss of ice is equivalent to the annual flow of China's Yellow River (06H1).
In the Ganges River alone, this loss of glacier melt water could reduce July-September flows by two thirds, causing water shortages for 500 million people and 35% of India's irrigated land (06H1).
In South America, in the dry Andes, glacial melt water contributes more to river flow than rainfall, even during the rainy season (06H1).
The Amu Darya River in Central Asia and the Colorado River in the southwestern US are among the world's rivers that run dry for at least part of the year. Water from the Amu Darya River, once the largest tributary of the Aral Sea, is diverted to irrigate cotton fields of Central Asia. The Colorado's flow is depleted by farmers and cities alike, with over 25% of these withdrawals - 3.8 trillion liters (3.8 km3) - going to California. At times during 18 of the last 26 years of the 20th century, China's Yellow River failed to make it to the sea. In recent years, however, better management and greater reservoir capacity have facilitated year-round flow. Other rivers, including the Ganges, the Indus, and the Nile, are sometimes little more than a trickle by the time they reach the sea. (See Table of Major Rivers Running Dry <http://www.earth-policy.org/Indicators/Water/2006_data.htm#fig3>.)
The Dead Sea has dropped by 25 meters (82 feet) in the past 40 years, and Mono Lake in California has fallen by 11 meters since 1941, the year Los Angeles first began to draw water from its tributaries. Lake Chad once spanning 23,000 km2 in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, and Chad. It now covers 900 km2 and exists entirely within Chad's borders, rendering earlier maps obsolete. China's Hebei Province has lost 969 of its 1052 lakes. In Central Asia, historic ports built on the shores of the Aral Sea are now up to 150 kilometers from the water's edge. While the South Aral Sea, intermittently fed by the weakened Amu Darya River, will likely never recover, recent efforts to revitalize the North Aral Sea have raised water level from 30-38 meters, close to the 42-meter level of viability. (See Table of Disappearing Lakes and Shrinking Seas http://www.earth-policy.org/Indicators/Water/2006_data.htm#fig4) (su4)
Both India and China rely heavily on major river systems that have their sources from the glacial melt of the Himalaya Mountains that are now under threat of global warming. Rapid glacial melt cause short term flooding problems, but more importantly will decrease future water supplies for both nations (06H2). (su4)
About 53% of the new water entering the US Great Lakes is ground water; 24% is surface water; 20% is over-lake precipitation subtracting evaporation losses (02R2).
The US Great Lakes cover an area of 94,000 square miles (243,000 km2), and the watershed that drains into them covers 201,000 square miles (521,000 km2). Lake Superior contains 2900 miles3 of water and covers 31,700 miles2. Lake Michigan contains 1180 miles3 of water and covers 22,300 miles2 and has a drainage basin of 45,600 miles2. Lake Erie contains 116 miles3 and covers 9910 miles2 and drains 30,000 miles2. Lake Ontario contains 393 miles3 of water and covers 7340 miles2 and has a drainage basin of 25,000 miles2 (02R2).
The five Great Lakes of the US - Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie and Ontario - contain over 5500 cubic miles (23,000 km3) of fresh water. This is 18% of the world's available fresh water supply (02R2).
The Ganges, Yellow River, Nile, and Colorado dry up before reaching the ocean, and water that would feed aquifers runs into the ocean without moisturizing forests and marshlands (02U3).
(Lakes) Reuters and the Associated Press ran articles 11/12/01 on the International Conference on Conservation and Management of Lakes meeting, held in Japan to prepare for the Third World Water Forum in 2003. "Up to 1 billion people worldwide depend on endangered lakes, but the number of lakes is shrinking rapidly as growing populations over-tap them for irrigation and drinking water, or over-pollutes them with sewage and industrial runoff," the Associated Press reported. Lakes on the watch list include: the Great Lakes of North America, Lake Victoria in Africa, and the Aral Sea between Kazakstan and Uzbekistan.
(Lakes) Half the world's lakes and reservoirs - representing 90% of all liquid fresh water on the Earth's surface - are degraded by pollution and drainage. Up to 1 billion people worldwide depend on endangered nearby lakes for drinking water, sewage, fishing, irrigation, transportation or tourism, said World Water Forum vice president William Cosgrove (01A1).
Part [A11] ~ Water Supplies ~ Water Losses ~
The cost of fixing aging, leaking water pipes in the US could be $500 billion over the next 30 years (08C1).
Much of today's agriculture in the developing world suffers from large water losses. This holds for both irrigated agriculture, where water use efficiency tends to be of the order of 30%, and for rain-fed agriculture where yields are often of the order of only 100 ton/ km3 or less. The losses tend to be largest in savanna zone agriculture where the majority of the poorest countries are located. There, rain-fed agriculture typically involves water use (consumption?) of the order of 3000 m3/ ton of grain (05F1).
Whereas homes and factories return a large portion of their water to the environment after they use it, half to 2/3 of agriculture's share is "consumed" through evaporation or transpiration and is thus not available for a second or third use (96P3). Comments: Irrigation water returned to the river is usually loaded with salt, making it less useful in downstream irrigation systems.
(Reservoir Evaporation) By 2025 water will be lost through evaporation from reservoirs at a rate of 300 km3/ year, vs.200 in 2000 (03U1).
(Waste) In 2000, global industry wasted 400 km3 of water (03U1).
(Waste) In 2000, global agriculture- and domestic use each wasted water at a rate of 800 km3/ year. (This is expected to become 1000-1100 by 2025) (03U1).
Hydroelectric reservoirs, which greatly expand a river's surface area, can increase water losses through evaporation by 10% of the reservoir's volume annually (98B3). Comments: This rate varies considerably with temperature and aridity. (This data is also in dam data above)
(Reservoir Evaporation) In the US Colorado River, 32% of flow is evaporated from reservoirs (Ref. 23 of (se94D2)), and 64% is consumed by irrigation (se94D2). ("se" means the soils degradation review)
(Irrigation-Related Waste) On average, no more than 50% of water withdrawn for irrigation purposes actually reaches crops. It soaks into unlined irrigation canals, leaks out of pipes and evaporates on its way to the fields (98H1).
Part [A12] ~ Water Supplies ~ Glaciers ~
Antarctic glaciers are melting faster across a much wider area than previously thought; scientists said Wednesday _ a development that could lead to an unprecedented rise in sea levels (09E1).
A report by thousands of scientists for the 2007-2008 International Polar Year concluded that the western part of the continent is warming up, not just the Antarctic Peninsula. Previously most of the warming was thought to occur on the narrow stretch pointing toward South America. But satellite data and automated weather stations indicate otherwise. "The warming we see in the peninsula also extends all the way down to what is called West Antarctica. For the International Polar Year, scientists from more than 60 countries have been conducting intense Arctic and Antarctic research over the past two southern summer seasons - on the ice, at sea, and via icebreaker, submarine and surveillance satellite (09E1).
The biggest West Antarctic glacier, the Pine Island Glacier, is moving 40% faster than it was in the 1970s, discharging water and ice more rapidly into the ocean. The Smith Glacier, also in west Antarctica, is moving 83% faster than it did in 1992. All the glaciers in the area together are losing a total of around 103 billion tonnes (114 billion U.S. tons)/ year because the discharge is much greater than the new snowfall (09E1).
"That's equivalent to the current mass loss from the whole of the Greenland ice sheet. The glaciers' discharge was making a significant contribution to the rise in sea levels. Glaciers are slipping into the sea faster because the floating ice shelf that would normally stop them (usually 650 to 980 feet (200-300 meters) thick) is melting. The warming of western Antarctica is a real concern. Some people fear that this is the first sign of an incipient collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet (09E1).
Antarctica's average annual temperature has increased by about 1 degree F (0.56 degrees C) since 1957, but is still 50 degrees F (45.6 degrees C) below zero. A 2007 IPCC report predicted a sea level rise of 7 to 23 inches (18-58 cm) by the end of the century, which could flood low-lying areas and force millions to flee. An additional 3.9-7.8 inches (10-20 cm) rise was possible if the recent, surprising melting of polar ice sheets continues. Others said the rise could be much higher. If the West Antarctica sheet collapses, sea levels will rise 1.0-1.5 meters. Many scientists now say the upper limit for sea level rise should be higher than predicted by IPCC (09E1).
IPY researchers found the southern ocean around Antarctica has warmed about 0.2 degrees C (0.36 degrees F) in the past decade, double the average warming of the rest of the Earth's oceans over the past 30 years (09E1).
The vast ice cap that covers Greenland nearly three miles thick is melting faster than ever before on record, and the pace is speeding year by year, according to global climate watchers gathering data from twin satellites that probe the effects of warming on the huge northern island. The consequence is already evident in a small but ominous rise in sea levels around the world, a pace that is also accelerating. Greenland's ice is melting at a rate three times faster than it was only five years ago. The estimate of the melting trend that has been observed for nearly a decade comes from a University of Texas team monitoring a satellite mission that measures changes in the Earth's gravity over the entire Greenland ice cap as the ice melts and the water flows down into the Arctic ocean. Scientists have only been watching the ice cap melt during a relatively short period, but they are seeing the strongest evidence of it yet, and in the near future the pace of melting will accelerate even more. The same satellites tracking Greenland's ice cap also are monitoring the melt rate of Antarctica's ice cover, and there too the melting is adding to the global rise in sea level, according to another team of scientists. Next to Antarctica, Greenland is the largest reservoir of fresh water on Earth and holds about 10% of the world's supply. The increasing flow of fresh water -- most of it from glaciers melting on Greenland's eastern coast -- is already beginning to change the composition of the ocean's salt water currents flowing past Northwestern Europe. The result could be a critical change in the composition of the main ocean current that flows past Europe's northern edge, blocking off warmer waters that normally flow there, making Northern Europe's weather colder than normal, at least temporarily, while the rest of the globe continues warming. The report on Greenland published 8/11/06 in the on-line edition of the journal Science by the University of Texas scientists at Austin. Surface melting of Greenland's ice cap reached 57 cubic miles a year between April of 2002 and November of 2005, compared to about 19 cubic miles a year between 1997 and 2003. "The sobering thing is to see that the whole process of glacial melting is stepping up much more rapidly than before. If the Greenland ice cap ever melted completely, scientists estimate it would raise world's sea level by an average of 6.5 meters, more than enough to drown all the world's low-lying islands and even some entire nations, like Holland. The possibility of future sea level rises becomes even more evident when Antarctica's huge ice sheets are considered. Although earlier evidence using other techniques appeared to show that the East Antarctica ice sheet was actually thickening, satellite data found that melting -- primarily from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet -- had turned at least 36 cubic miles of ice to fresh water each year from 2002 to 2005. A recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated that during all of the past century worldwide melting ice from global warming had raised sea levels by only two-tenths of a millimeter a year, or about 20 inches for the entire century. But, the melting of Greenland's ice cap is already raising global sea levels by six-tenths of a millimeter each year. Melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet alone is adding up to 0.4 mm of fresh water to sea levels each year. In other words, the global sea level, due to melting of the ice in Greenland and Antarctica combined, is already rising 10 times faster than the IPPC's tentative estimates, the two analyses indicate. Satellites determine with extraordinary accuracy just how the mass of even small regions of the Earth change as ice melts and flows away from the land to the sea. In a recent summary of the ice cap melting problem and its effect on sea levels "The time scale for future loss of most of an ice sheet may not be millennia," as glacier models have suggested, but centuries (David Perlman, "Greenland's Ice Cap is Melting at a Frighteningly Fast Rate," San Francisco Chronicle (8/11/06)).
Bolivia's famed Chacaltaya glacier has lost 80% of its surface area since 1982 (09K1).
Peruvian glaciers have lost more than 20% of their mass in the past 35 years, reducing by 12% the water flow to Peru's coastal region, home to 60% of Peru's population (09K1).
If warming trends continue, according to a World Bank report, many of the Andes tropical glaciers will disappear within 20 years. This will threaten the water supplies of 77 million people in the region. This change will reduce the hydropower production, which accounts for roughly 50% of the electricity generated in Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador (09K1).
In recent decades, 20,000-year-old glaciers in Bolivia have been retreating so fast that 80% of the ice will be gone in 20 years (09K1).
Andean glaciers are the natural water towers to tens of millions of people, including those in the capital cities of Quite Ecuador, Lima Peru, Santiago Chile, and LaPaz Bolivia (09K1). Water for the city of El Alto in Bolivia comes mainly from the region's largest reservoir situated at the base of a glaciated mountain cluster called Tuni Condoriri. Since 1983, the cluster has lost 35% of its ice mass. Glaciers Tuni and Condoriri, the two largest, are projected to disappear by 2025 and 2040 respectively (09K1).
The glacier Zongo, the source of 10 cascading hydropower plants that provide 25% of Bolivia's electricity, is receding 33 feet/ year (09K1).
Two billion people rely on the melt-water from the Himalayas, which have lost 21% of their glacial mass since 1962. Himalayan glaciers are the main source of water for five major river systems whose flow irrigates much of China, India, and Pakistan's rice and wheat and which also supplies much of the region's drinking water. These river basins are the Ganges (407 million people), the Indus (178 million people), the Brahmaputra (118 million people), the Yangtze (368 million people), and the Yellow (147 million people) (09K1).
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SECTION (6-B) ~ Regional Water Supply and Use ~ Asia and Europe ~ [B1]~Asian Sub-continent ([B1a]~Bangladesh, [B1b]~India, [B1c]~Pakistan, [B1d]~Sri Lanka) ~ [B2]~Far East , [B3]~Middle East , [B4]~Southeast Asia , [B5]~Europe, [B6]~Russia and Central Asian Republics, ~[B7]~Asia Generally,
Part [B1] ~ Water Use ~ Asian Sub-Continent ~ [B1a]~Bangladesh, [B1b]~India, [B1c]~Pakistan, [B1d]~Sri Lanka, ~
India's Farakka Barrage, completed in 1975, diverts water from the Ganges into its Indian tributary, thereby depriving Bangladesh of water. [Smith, Dan, and Janami Vivekananda. A Climate of Conflict: The Links between Climate Change, Peace and War. International Alert. (November 2007.) http://www.international-alert.org/pdf/A_Climate_Of_Conflict.pdf ]
Part [B1a] ~ Water Use ~ Asian Sub-Continent ~ Bangladesh ~
(Groundwater) Bangladesh dug over a million wells in the 1970s, so today almost 90% of its people drink ground-water (00S1).
(Groundwater) Bangladesh's ground-water supplies are adequate for 10 million acres, as compared to 3 million acres under irrigation (Ref. 62 of (81G1)).
Bangladesh's evaporation losses are 160 km3/ year, with another 80-85 km3/ year used by the current crop area of 90,000 km2, giving a total consumption of 245 km3/ year (81G1).
(Precipitation) Bangladesh precipitation = 200 cm/ year; evaporation = 100-140 cm/ year (81G1).
(Surface Water Sources) Rivers pour 1234 km3/ year into Bangladesh; 123 km3/ year are generated internally (presumably by rainfall directly on Bangladesh) (Refs. 10 and 6 of (81G1)).
(River Shrinkage) Bangladesh's Inland Water Transport Authority says 80% of Bangladesh's 235 rivers are drying up (Pittsburgh Post Gazette (2/17/02)). (su4)
[B1b] ~ Water Use ~ Asian Sub-Continent ~ India ~
The Indian government estimates that 60% of India's farmers use their own low-cost irrigation pumps despite the Indian government's heavy investment in expanding surface irrigation (09B1).
A World Bank study of India's water balance notes that 15% of India's grain harvest is produced by over-pumping. In human terms, 175 million Indians are being fed with grain produced from wells that will be going dry. The comparable number for China is 130 million people. Countries facing harvest reductions from groundwater depletion are Pakistan, Iran, and Yemen (Lester R. Brown, "Could Food Shortages Bring Down Civilization?" in Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization News Release (9/29/09)).
India's 21 million water wells are powered by heavily subsidized electricity, yet they are lowering water tables at an accelerating rate. In some Indian states, half of all electricity is used to pump water (Ref. 9 of (05B1)). (SU4)
In Tamil Nadu, an Indian state of 62 million people, falling water tables have dried up 95% of the water wells owned by small farmers, reducing the irrigated area in that state by over 50% during the past decade (Ref. 10 of (05B1)). (SU4)
India just completed the Sardar Sarovar Dam as an answer to the water needs of millions in western India. The Sardar Sarovar is the centerpiece of the multibillion- dollar Narmada Valley development project that taps the Narmada, India's fifth-largest river. The dam will connect an 86,000 kilometer (50,000 mile) network of canals and help irrigate 1.8 million hectares (4.5 million acres) of farm land and provide drinking water to 20 million people. It will help in flood control and generate 1450 MW of peak power. Construction of the dam (1250 meters (4100 ft) long, 122 meters (400 ft) high), began in 1987 ("India Completes Huge Dam, Critics Damn It," Planet Ark (1/02/07).).
The Gangotri glacier, which provides up to 70% of the water in the Ganges River during the dry summer months, is shrinking at a rate of 40 yards/ year, nearly twice as fast as two decades ago. According to a UN climate report, the Himalayan glaciers that are the source of the Ganges could disappear by 2030 as temperatures rise. In India, the Ganges River provides more than 500 million people with water for drinking and farming. (Emily Wax, "A Sacred River Endangered by Global Warming," Washington Post (6/17/07), p. A14.) (Su4)
India's water shortages are particularly serious simply because the margin between actual food consumption and survival is so precarious. In a survey of India's water situation, New Scientist reported that the 21 million wells drilled are lowering water tables in most of India (07B1).
In India's North Gujarat, the water table is falling by 6 meters/ year (07B1). (SU4)
In India's Tamil Nadu, (Population: 62 million people in southern India), falling water tables have dried up 95% of the wells owned by small farmers, reducing the irrigated area in Tamil Nadu by 50% over the last decade (07B1). (SU4)
To date, India's 100 million farmers have drilled 21 million wells, at a cost of $12 billion in wells and pumps. In a survey of India's water situation, Fred Pearce reported in New Scientist "half of India's traditional hand-dug wells and millions of shallower tube wells have dried up" (08B1).
A 2005 World Bank study reports that 15% of India's food supply is produced by mining groundwater. Stated otherwise, 175 million Indians are fed with grain produced with water from irrigation wells that will soon go dry (08B1).
India's grain harvest, squeezed both by water scarcity and the loss of cropland to non-farm uses, has plateaued since 2000 (08B1).
About 60% of the grain harvest of India comes from irrigated land (08B1).
Agriculture use accounts for 85% of India's renewable water resources, and this just meets food sufficiency. Agricultural demand for water in India will rise 50% by 2025. (M. De Villiers, (1999). Water Wars: Is the world's water running out ? Weidenfeld and Niconslon, London. p. 292.) (06H2).
India is highly dependant on annual monsoon rains for its survival. India, like China, is facing water scarcity, mismanagement of water resources and water pollution problems. In 2005, the Indian water situation was described by a World Bank analyst as "extremely grave"
(Worldwatch Institute. (2006), State of the World, Special focus: China and India. W.W. Norton and Company, London. p. 14.) (06H2).
India's water scarcity is increasing; the number of Indian villages without any water source went from 750 in 1985 to 65,000 in 1996. (D. R. Ward, (2002), Water Wars: Drought, Flood, Folly and the Politics of Thirst. Riverhead Books, New York. p. 5.) (06H2). (su4)
Around 25% of India's agricultural production comes from land irrigated from over-exploited aquifers. Millions of Indian wells have already gone dry.
(S. Postel, (2006) "Safeguarding Freshwater Ecosystems." Chapter 3, The Worldwatch Institute, State of the World, Special focus: China and India. W.W. Norton and Company, London. p. 51.) (06H2). (su4)
India's urban water demand is expected to double, while industrial water demand is expected to triple, by 2025, as India continues to develop economically (Worldwatch Institute. (2006), State of the World, Special focus: China and India. W.W. Norton and Company, London. p. 14.) (06H2).
Only 10% of Indian sewage is treated, both industrial and urban pollution have turned many Indian rivers into open sewers and further decrease the amount of available usable water (Worldwatch Institute. (2006), State of the World, Special focus: China and India. W.W. Norton and Company, London. p. 7.) (06H2).
No city in India has 24-hour water service. The Indian government is unable to provide sufficient amounts of water to meet basic water demands in urban areas (L. Bhandari and A. Khare, (2006). "Poor provision of household water in India: respond to artificial scarcity." K. Okonski et al. (Eds.) The Water Revolution: Practical Solutions to Water Scarcity. International Policy Press, London. p. 96.) (06H2).
Annual precipitation and snowfall in India is about 4000 billion m3/ year. Natural runoff to rivers and recharge of ground water consumes 1869 billion m3/ year. Of the remainder, only about 690 billion m3/ year can be used because of topographical constraints and uneven distribution of rainfall (06M2). Together with groundwater resources, (about 432 km3) India's water availability is 1122 km3/ year. India'sagriculture will require 1008 km3/ year by 2050 to produce the 539 million tons of food grain that will be needed then (when the population reaches 1.6 billion) (06M2). Comments: With the shrinkage of glaciers in the Himalayas, surface water supplies in India are shrinking. (See elsewhere in this document.)
In India's northwestern provinces of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, groundwater through tube wells for cultivation of wheat, rice and sugarcane have been over-exploited, resulting in severe depletion of groundwater (06M2). The Indian states of Punjab and Haryana, combined, produce 33% of India's wheat.
About 60% of India's farmland is exclusively rain-fed. About 80% of India's rainfall occurs between June and September (the monsoons). This makes multiple cropping essentially impossible (06M2).
(Groundwater Depletion) In India, farmers have invested around US$12 billion in groundwater pump structures - resulting in unsustainable use in many parts of India (04M1).
(Groundwater Depletion) Farmers are driving Asian countries towards an environmental catastrophe, using tube wells that are sucking groundwater reserves dry, New Scientist says. Tens of millions of tube wells have been drilled over the past decade, many of them beyond any official control, and powerful electric pumps are being used to haul up the water at a rate that far outstrips replenishment by rainfall. In the case of India, smallholder farmers have driven 21 million tube wells into their fields and the number is increasing by a million wells per year. Half of India's traditional hand-dug wells have run dry, as have millions of shallower tube wells ("Asia faces water catastrophe: scientists", PARIS (AFP) (8/25/04)).
(Groundwater Depletion) In India's Indus basin as a whole, groundwater pumping is estimated to exceed recharge by 50% (p. 97, (99P1)). (su4)
(Groundwater Depletion) In India the leading country in total irrigated area and the third-largest grain producer, the number of shallow tube wells used to draw groundwater was 3000 in 1960, and 6 million in 1990 (00S1).
(Water Constraints on Irrigation) The eventual lack of water for irrigation could cut India's grain production by 25% (UNFPA data) (Times of India (2/15/00)).
(Groundwater Depletion) 25% of India's grain harvest could be in jeopardy from groundwater depletion (David Seckler, David Moldon, Randolph Barker, "Water Scarcity in the Twenty-First Century", Water Brief No.1, International Water Management Institute, 1998).
(Groundwater Depletion) In India, pumped underground water is double the rate of aquifer recharge from rainfall (99U1). (su4)
(Surface Water Depletion) Farmers in India are leaving little water in the Ganges for the farmers of Bangladesh (99U1).
Water-Deficit States in India, Mid-1990s (km3/ year) (99P1)
State - - -|DeficitRajasthan~ | 32.6
Gujarat~ ~ | 16.0
Haryana~ ~ | 14.2
Karnataka~ | 12.7
Punjab ~ ~ | ~4.0
Other~ ~ ~ | ~2.8Total~ ~ ~ |104.3
(Surface Water Degradation) Nearly all of India's rivers are essentially open sewers (98H1).
(Groundwater Depletion) In southern India, groundwater levels are falling 2.5-3 meters/ year. In the Gujarat (India) aquifer depletion has induced salt contamination (Refs. 6, 7 of (94K1)). (su4)
(Groundwater Depletion) Excessive pumping of groundwater for agriculture in Tamil Nadu, one of India's southern states, caused the water table to drop close to 30 meters in a decade (98H1).
(Groundwater Depletion) In the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh the number of water-short villages increased from 17,000 to 70,000 in two decades. Of 2700 water wells supplied by the Indian government, 2300 have dried up (98H1).
A rainfall map of India is shown in Ref. (76M1) (0-20"/ year, 20-40"/ year,).
Of 1.33 million km2 of land in India being cropped, 240,000 km2 are irrigated, but only 50% of this has an assured supply of water (70T1).
(Well-Drilling) 90,000 dug wells, 30,000 shallow tube wells, and 9500 deep wells have been installed in India in the past 15 years (70T1). The limited water supply encourages inadequate leaching of land and a resultant increase in soil salinity (70T1).
Indian per-capita water supplies fell by roughly half during 1955-1990 (97Z1).
Sugarcane growers in the Indian state of Maharasktra take 50% of available irrigation water supplies, even though they occupy only 10% of cropped land (92P1).
(Groundwater Depletion) Between 1946-86 the water table in parts of Karmataka (in India) dropped 40 meters (Ref. 20 of (92P1)). In portions of the southern state of Tamil Nadu, ground-water levels have dropped 25-30 meters in a decade (Ref. 12 of (92P1)) (85B1) (90P1).
(Groundwater Depletion) In the Ludhiana district of Punjab India (Pakistan??), groundwater pumping exceeds recharge by 1/3. Water tables are dropping nearly 1 meter/ year (Ref. 36 of (94P1)).
Water shortages plagued 17,000 villages in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh in the 1960s. By 1985 that figure had risen to 70,000. Similarly, in Madya Pradesh, more than 36,400 villages lacked sufficient water in 1980; in 1985 the number totaled more than 64,500. In the western state of Gujarat, the number of villages short of water tripled between 1979 and 1986, from 3,840 to 12,250 (89P2) (Ref. 40 of (89P3)), and over-pumping by irrigators caused saltwater to invade the aquifer (Ref. 23 of (90P1)).
(Groundwater Depletion) In Ludhiana District, one of 12 in India's Punjab where water tables have been carefully studied, the water table is dropping nearly 1 meter/ year (Ref. 18, Ch. 8 of (94B1)). Water tables are dropping by under one to several meters/ year in much of India's Punjab (India's breadbasket), Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujurat, and Tamil Nadu - states that contain 250 million people (Ref. 16 of (95B1)).
India's irrigation water came from less than 30% groundwater in 1951 but over 40% in 1980 (81G1).
India's water resources use (km3/ year) (Refs. 46 and 61 of (81G1))
Surface Water|Potential|Use (1973-1974)Irrigation ~ | ~ ~ 510 |240
Other~ ~ ~ ~ | ~ ~ 190 | 10
Irrigation ~ | ~ ~ 260 |110
Other~ ~ ~ ~ | ~ ~ ~90 | 20
India's new Sardar Sarovar Dam (455 ft. high) will have a 363 km2 reservoir and 47,000 miles of irrigation canals covering 780 km2(Worldwatch, 7(4) (1994) p. 2).
India's rainfall = 110 cm/ year (81G1). Average surface flow = 1800 km3/ year. Inflow from neighboring countries accounts for 200 km3/ year of this 1800 (81G1). Storage capacity (mid-1970s) = 160 km3. India's water utilization = 250 km3/ year (1974). 100 km3 of this was from storage; 150 from rivers and streams. Irrigation accounted for 240 km3/ year of this utilization (81G1). (95 km3 were used in 1951.) Estimated surface water utilization in 2000 = 500 km3/ year, including 420 km3/ year for irrigation (Ref. 46 of (81G1)).
India's potential surface water resource = 700-800 km3/ year (81G1).
India's potential utilizable ground-water resource = 350 km3/ year (81G1) (Another estimate = 255-370 km3/ year.) India's use of groundwater in 1973-74 was 120-130 km3/ year (80% for irrigation) (81G1).
(Groundwater Degradation) Some 65% of Haryana India sits over salty groundwater (Ref. 38 of (96G2)).
(Groundwater Depletion) The Central Ground Water Board in New Dehli (India) reports that India's water table was lowered by over 25 ft. during 1983-1995 (Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 5/20/96).
Almost all of the 44 rivers in Kerala India face extinction through deforestation, sand mining, river-bank brick-making and pollution (WorldWatch, 9(3) (1996)).
(Groundwater Depletion) Delhi, India, will run out of groundwater by 2015 at current rates. (Environment News Service, 3/22/01)
[B1c] ~ Water Use ~ Asian Sub-Continent ~ Pakistan ~
See http://iwmi.org.pk/iwmi/WP%2064%20final-With%20C%20&%20B%20Page.pdf for the results of a comprehensive groundwater survey of Pakistan, designed to understand the dynamics of groundwater use, operation and maintenance patterns, socio-economics of groundwater irrigation, land use pattern, crops, yields, and groundwater irrigation practices. 1/11/05.
Irrigation is hampered by the high silt loads carried by the Indus River and its tributaries - the product of earlier erosive geologic conditions and deforestation in the Himalayas. The principal threat is to the rapid sedimentation of Pakistan's expensive new reservoirs (76E1).
Water tables are plunging in the Pakistani state of Punjab, which produces 90% of Pakistan's food." ("Asia faces water catastrophe: scientists", PARIS (AFP) (8/25/04))
(Salinization of Surface Water and Groundwater) As a result of reduced flow in the Indus River, seawater is making intrusions into the land (surface?) and subsoil waters in coastal areas, particularly in the Thatta and Badin districts in the Indus delta, making them saline. Once-fertile agricultural lands were fast becoming barren. (speaker at a 2/8/02 conference "Population and Environment" organized by Pakistan'sSindh Population Welfare Department.)
Pakistan average precipitation = 30 cm./ year (13 cm. in Baluchistan Plateau) (81G1).
Pakistan's mean discharge (into oceans?) = 175 km3/ year. Storage capacity of Pakistan's Tarbela Dam (Indus River) = 11.5 km3 (81G1). Mangla Dam, (completed 1967), capacity = 6.5 km3 (81G1).
Among the new refugees are people being forced to move because of aquifer depletion and wells running dry. Thus far the evacuations have been of villages, but eventually whole cities might have to be relocated, such as Quetta, the capital of Pakistan's Baluchistan province. Quetta (in Pakistan), originally designed for 50,000 people, now has 1 million inhabitants, all of whom depend on 2,000 wells pumping water deep from underground, depleting what is believed to be a fossil or non-replenishable aquifer. Quetta (in Pakistan) may have enough water for the rest of this decade (Lester R. Brown, "Troubling New Flows of Environmental Refugees", Earth Policy Institute (1/28/04)).
(Groundwater Depletion) In Pakistan's Indus Valley, groundwater is pumped at over 50% above the rate that would avoid salinization (Ref. 30 of (96G1)). Comments: This presumably refers to intrusion from seawater intrusion into aquifers that are below sea level. (su4)
[B1d] ~ Water Use ~ Asian Sub-Continent ~ Sri Lanka ~
In Northeast Sri Lanka, evaporation (excluding transpiration) accounts for 29% of total dry-season water consumption from rice fields (p. 190 of (99P1)).
Average rainfall in Sri Lanka is 200 cm/ year (132 km3)// runoff: 43 km3/ year// Groundwater potential: small (81G1).
Part [B2] ~ Water Use ~ Far East ~
Some 543 medium- and large-sized lakes in China disappeared between 1850 and 1980 due to irrigation projects (09H1).
China's "South-to-North water diversion project is designed to move water from China's central and southern regions up to the arid northern provinces - at an estimated cost of $62 billion and the relocation of 300,000 people (08O1). The western route of this project could result in depletion of some of India's rivers (08O1).
China's water supply relative to its population is 25% of the world-average ratio. In Beijing that ratio is 8% (08O1).
[B2a] ~ Water Use ~ Far East ~ China, Overall (Northern China is separate - see below)~
The US embassy in Beijing reports that Chinese wheat farmers in some areas are now pumping from a depth of 300 meters (07B1).
China's Yellow River, which flows 4000 km through five provinces to the Yellow Sea, has been under mounting pressure for several decades. It first ran dry in 1972. Since 1985 it has often failed to reach the sea, although better management and greater reservoir capacity have facilitated year-round flow in recent years (07B1).
In the region around the Chinese city of Shijiazhuang (Pop: 2.3 million, with a metropolitan area of 9 million), the water table is sinking about 4 ft./ year (07Y1). Some wells must go down 600+ ft. to reach clean water. About 75% of the region's entire aquifer system is suffering some level of contamination. The region has more than 800 illegal wells (07Y1) (SU4).
Water usage in China has quintupled since 1949 (07Y1).
Nationally, groundwater usage in China has almost doubled since 1970 and now accounts for 20% of China's total water usage (China Geological Survey Bureau data) (07Y1).
China has 7% of the world's freshwater resources, and 20% of the world's population. About 80% of China's water supply is in the south (07Y1).
Roughly 41% if China's wastewater is now dumped into the Yangtze (07Y1).
Industry in China uses 3-10 times more water, depending on the product, than industries in developed nations (07Y1).
The Yongding, Yishui, Xia and the Hutuo Rivers in China are "dead," i.e. water no longer flows in them (07Y1) (SU4).
On the North China Plains, roughly 83% of the original wetlands have dried up (07Y1).
The largest natural freshwater lake in northern China (Lake Baiyangdian) is steadily contracting and is filling with pollution (07Y1).
China's green southern province (city?) of Guangdong is facing a water shortage due to pollution and inefficiency. In 3 years only 1/3 of its water demand would be met. By 2020 the shortfall will widen to about half of the province's water demand (more than 3.1 km3). More than 3.1 km3 of sewage are discharged into rivers throughout Guangdong per year. At least 16 million residents (14% of the city's population) face water shortages due to pollution. In the central 5-year plan that ended in 2005, water in 26% of "key" lakes and rivers targeted for cleanup across China was so contaminated that it was classified as unfit even to touch or to irrigate crops. ("China warns of water shortage in lush Guangdong," Reuters (11/28/07.))
About 80% of the grain harvest of China comes from irrigated land (08B1).
According to China's deputy minister of construction, more than 100 of China's biggest cities could soon face water crises.
(Worldwatch Institute. (2006). State of the World, Special focus: China and India. W. W. Norton and Co., London. p. 14-15.) (06H2).
China has 8% of the world's freshwater resources, but has 22% of the global population. (Worldwatch Institute. (2006). State of the World, Special focus: China and India. W.W. Norton and Company, London. p. 7.) (06H2).
About 7% of China's glaciers are vanishing annually and by 2050, as many as 64% of China's glaciers will have disappeared. An estimated 300 million Chinese live in China's arid west and depend on water from glaciers for their survival ("Water for Near Half the World's Population Under Threat at the Roof of the World: Conservation of watersheds urgently needed to reduce increasing floods, human and biodiversity losses." GLOBIO (an initative of the UN Environment Program UNEP) 9/5/05. (based on a new report "The Fall of Waters" which is available at www.globio.info and www.grida.no and www.unep.org together with graphics and maps.) (su4)
In China's western province of Xinjiang, the Tarim River began to run dry in 1972 following construction of a reservoir in its middle. It has now almost totally disappeared (Jehangir S. Pocha, "China's dangerous dustbowl," The Boston Globe (9/18/06.).) (Su3).
China's per-capita water consumption rate is 25% the global average rate. (W. Xinbo, (2006). 'Water governance in China: The failure of a top-down approach.' K. Okonski et al. (Eds.) The Water Revolution: Practical Solutions to Water Scarcity. International Policy Press, London. p. 149.) (06H2).
About 75% of Chinese lakes, and an even larger portion of water on China's costal areas, are polluted
On average, China has only 25% of the world's average water supply per person. China's water is geographically unevenly distributed, with the Northern China only having access to 20% of the South on a per-capita basis.
In China 80% of the nation's water is in the south while two-thirds of China's agricultural production is in the north. (Brown and Halweil quoted in R. Dimitrov, (2002). 'Water, Conflict and Security: A Conceptual Minefield', Journal of Society and Natural Resources, 15: (2002) pp. 677-691, p. 686.) (06H2).
Farmers in the North China plain without access to ground water have already started to abandon wheat production because of surface water scarcity (Worldwatch Institute. (2006), State of the World, Special focus: China and India. W.W. Norton and Company, London. p. 14.) (06H2).
About 67% of the water needed for cities and agriculture in China comes from aquifers. (05D1) (06H2).
According to Wang Shucheng, the groundwater of Northern China will be exhausted in the next decade. (W. Shucheng, (2003) quoted in W. Xinbo, (2006). 'Water governace in China : The failure of a top-down approach.' K. Okonski et al. (Eds.) The Water Revolution: Practical Solutions to Water Scarcity. International Policy Press, London. p. 149.) (06H2). (su4)
According to China's water resources ministry, more than 90 rivers in China run dry for part of the year.
(J. Watts, (13/2/06). Water crisis: Wetlands sucked dry in China. The Guardian, International Section.) (06H2).
China's second longest river, the Yellow River, has run dry 20 out 25 years between 1972 and 1997. The number of days that the Yellow River has run dry increased from 10 in 1988 to 230 days in 1997. (05D1) (06H2)
The Chinese government is responding to its water supply challenges with massive construction projects such as the Three Gorges Dam project and the South-to-North Water Diversion Project. The Three Gorges Dam is under construction and is the world's largest civil engineering project. China's South-to-North Water Diversion Project that began in 2002 and is estimated to be completed in 2050 at a cost of $59 billion (05D1) (06H2). Comments: The rate at which dam water storage capacity in China is depleted by erosion sediments is several percent per year, so the lifetime of the Three Gorges Dam will only be a matter of a few decades.
In a March 2005 interview, the Chinese Vice-Minister of the Environment, Pan Yue said, "This (Chinese economic) miracle will end soon because the environment can no longer keep pace . . . China's society as a whole will become unstable". (Worldwatch Institute. (2006), State of the World, Special focus: China and India. W.W. Norton and Company, London. p.18-19) (06H2).
China's demand for irrigation water (km3/ year) (98B3)
Year - - - |1995 |2030Agriculture| 400 | 665
Industrial | ~52 | 269
Residential| ~31 | 134Total~ ~ ~ | 483 |1068
China's per-capita farmland area is 0.097 ha.. China supplies water to its 1.3 billion people ~ 20% of the world's population - with 8% of the world's freshwater ("China Marks 34th Earth Day with Focus on Resources Protection", Xinhua General News Service (4/22/03)).
China's per-capita water resources accounts for 25% of the world's average ("Look on Green GDP Objectively", China Economic Net (6/30/04).).
In China's north plain, China's breadbasket, 30 km3 (1.059 trillion ft3) more water are being extracted each year by farmers than are being replaced by the rain, New Scientist said. Groundwater is used to produce 40% of China's grain. In June, the state paper China Daily admitted that China "may be plunged into a water crisis" by 2030 when China's population is scheduled to peak at 1.6 billion. The tube-well revolution, whose technology is adapted from the oil industry, has also swept water-stressed countries like Pakistan and Vietnam, where underground reserves are likewise being depleted, New Scientist says. "Vietnam has quadrupled its number of tube wells in the past decade to one million ("Asia faces water catastrophe: scientists", PARIS (AFP) (Aug 25, 2004)).
Sand and dust pour into China's Guanting Reservoir -one of two from which Beijing draws water - at a rate of 3 million tonnes/ year. Silt, fertilizer runoff and factory pollution rendered the water unfit for drinking in 1997 (Frank Langfitt, "Deserts slowly swallowing up China", Pittsburgh Post Gazette (4/28/02)).
"Two-thirds of China's cities are now short of water and the very existence of some, such as Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi, is threatened. All but a handful of the 300 tributaries that feed into the Hai River are now dry, with dire consequences for a population of 120 million people in the Hai river basin. But agricultural runoff from chemical fertilizers, industrial effluent, and urban waste has rendered the water in most of its reservoirs undrinkable. Across the whole of the North China Plain, where half of China's wheat is grown, 3.6 million wells have been sunk, mostly for irrigation. The aquifer below is being steadily drained and the water table is 90 meters below the surface and dropping by 3-6 meters/ year. Most of the 20 billion tonnes of urban sewage that China's expanding cities produce each year is dumped straight into rivers and lakes. China now produces as much organic water pollution as the US, Japan and India combined (China: Collision between population and the environment, Asia Times (8/23/03).
No water is available for irrigation on China's Loess Plateau (89Y2). Comments: Loess (windblown) soil has very low organic matter so it is very poor, erosion-prone soil.
China is planning to build six dams along its half of the 4,840-km. (3025-mile) Mekong river in order to power economic development in the southwest of China. Combined with two existing Chinese dams on the Mekong, they could generate a total of 15.6 gigawatts of electricity/ year, Xinhua news reported. The dams would ease flooding during annual rains and add water during the dry season. The four countries downstream, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, would suffer reduced water flow and water quality levels. Joern Kristensen, chief executive of the Mekong River Commission secretariat in Phnom Penh, said "If the water's quality is altered, that could impact downstream fisheries which provide the single most important source of protein for millions of Cambodians." ("Nations Concerned About China's Planned Dams", CNN.com/Xinhua (1/25/02)).
(River Shrinkage) In Shanxi province of China, the Fen River, a Yellow River tributary that used to run through the capital, Taiyuan, barely exists (02U1).
(River Shrinkage) The Fen River in China is so overused that it failed to complete its course to the Yellow River in 1972 for the first time in recorded history (02U1).
(Groundwater Depletion) Aquifers beneath Taiuan China have dropped more than 300 feet. Today, about 48 million acres of arable land and 100 million people reside within the Fen River basin (02U1).
(Water Quality Issues) Discharge of toxins from cities and factories has made China's Yellow River water unfit for irrigation and human consumption along much of its route. "Only 15% of Yellow River water is treated, and only 20% is recycled," said Vaclav Smil, a professor of geography at the University of Manitoba in Canada and an expert on China's water problems (02U1).
(Pollution) According to the UN, 80% of China's major rivers are so polluted that they no longer support fish (02U1).
(River Dry-up) In 1972, the Yellow River ran dry before reaching the Yellow Sea for the first time in history. In 1997, the Yellow River's lower reaches were dry for 227 days (02U1).
(Per-capita Demand Growth) China's population is expected to increase by 300 million (about 25%) by 2030. China's demand for water is expected to increase by 66% by 2030 (Environment News Service (3/22/01)).
(Water Shortages) Over 65% of China's cities face severe water shortages (Environment News Service (3/22/01)).
(Dams) Diversion projects and dams have been Beijing's main response to China's growing water crisis. All along the Yellow River, diversion and dam projects, big and small, are in progress. There are plans for more than 10 new dams on the river. As a result, critics argue that too little has been done to tackle the roots of the crisis - deforestation of the inner provinces; indiscriminate, uneconomical use of water for agriculture; outdated factories that use more water than necessary; erosion, overpopulation, the lack of a functioning price system, and the lack of water treatment plants (02U1).
(Disappearing Lakes) In China between 1950-1980, 543 large- and medium-sized lakes disappeared when their water was diverted for irrigation. Remarks were made at the International Conference on Conservation and Management of Lakes in Japan, in preparation for the Third World Water Forum to be held in the city of Kyoto, Japan in 2003 (01A1). (su4)
(Water Pollution) As much as 20% of China's river water is too polluted for irrigation use (Wall Street Journal (8/2/96)).
(Water Pollution) 80% of China's 50,000 km. of major rivers are so degraded that they no longer support fish (98B ) (UN FAO data) (98B3).
(Demand vs. Supply) Total water demand in China's Yellow River Basin exceeds usable supply by 10% (45% in 2030 (projected)) (99P1).
China's Yellow (Huang He) River carries 58 km3/ year. But typically 60% of that flow is during the rainy season (July through October) when little irrigation is needed. At least a third of the flow is used to transport the silt load to the coast. So 37 km3 remain available to meet the basins water demands. The Yellow River supplies 140 million people and 74,000 km2 of irrigated land (99P1).
(Groundwater Use) Wells for irrigation in China: 110,000 in 1961, 2.4 million in the mid-1980s. Now groundwater wells irrigate 88,000 km2in China. This is 18% of China's irrigated land (99P1). (la)
(Regional Water Imbalance) About 80% of China's river runoff occurs in southern China, and 20% occurs in the north. But over 60% of China's arable land is in central and northern China, and most of that needs irrigation to be highly productive (99P1).
(Demand vs. Supply) About 300 of China's 617 largest cities face water shortages (98B3).
(River Dry-ups) China's Yellow River dry periods: 15 days in 1972, dry periods every year since 1985, 133 days in 1996, 226 days in 1997 (98B3).
(River Dry-ups) China's Yellow River ran dry in its lower reaches 226 days in 1997 (USA Today, 11/29/99).
(River Dry-ups) China's Yellow River first ran dry in 1972. Every year since 1985, it has run dry for part of each year. In 1997, it failed to reach the sea about 7 months of the year (99U1).
(Demand vs. Supply) China's urban water shortfall (5.8 km3/ year) is expected to triple by 2000 (Ref. 33 of (96G1)).
(Groundwater Depletion) In China, ground water levels are falling as much as 1 meter/ year in major wheat- and corn-growing regions of the north China Plain (Ref. 64 of (94K1)).
(Ground water Depletion) Tianjin, China, reports a drop in ground water levels of 4.4 meters/ year (Refs. 58, 59 of (94K1)).
(Ground water Depletion) 10% of China's cultivated area depends on over-drafted groundwater (96G1).
(Ground water Depletion) In southwest Shanxi China, over-pumping has dropped water tables by 70 m. Subsidence now affects about 92,000 km2 in northern China (Ref. 15 of (95B3)).
(Irrigation Mismanagement) China's Provinces Hebei, Hunan, Shandong, and Shanxi feed their irrigated lands far less than the ideal amount of water (Ref. 11 of (95B3)). Comments: This usually results in salinity problems.
(Ground water Use Trends) Until 1970, irrigation-water growth in China came from additional dams. Since 1970, most added irrigation water has come from aquifers (2 million wells currently) (95B3).
(Urban- vs. Agricultural Water Use) In much of China, future urban and industrial water demand can be satisfied only by diverting water from irrigation. Half of China's croplands are irrigated (Ref. 3 of Ch. 5 of (95B3)).
(Water Consumption Data) Since 1950, China's water-use has increased six-fold due to population growth, irrigation expansion (170,000 km2 in 1950; 470,000 km2 in 1991); affluence, and industrialization (95B3).
(Irrigation Area Inventory) China's irrigated area grew by 10,000 km2/ year during 1950-1977, and by 1700 km2/ year during 1977-1991 (95B3).
(Supply vs. Demand) More than 300 cities are short of water in China (93H1). 82 million rural people find it difficult to procure water (93H1).
(Supply vs. demand) Of China's 570 cities, 300 (and Beijing) have serious water shortages, and the 50 in the worst shape distribute water through quotas (quote of China Daily in Ref. (94H1)). Over 300 Chinese cities are short of water; 100 are very short (94B2).
Agriculture claims 87% of the 500 km3 of water that China uses (Ref. 18 of (95R1)).
(Supply/ Demand) In China in late 1993, over 82 million people in rural areas find it difficult to procure water (94B2).
(Water Pollution) 11% of China's 85,000 km. of rivers are classified as unsuitable for irrigation (98B1). 20% of China's river water can no longer be used to irrigate land (due to pollution) (Joseph Kahn, Wall Street Journal, 8/2/96).
In China, per-capita water supplies fell by roughly half during 1955-1990 (97Z1).
[B2b] ~ Water Use ~ Far East ~ China ~ Northern ~
A World Bank study indicates that Northern China is over-pumping three river basins in the north - the Hai, which flows through Beijing and Tianjin; the Yellow; and the Huai, the next river south of the Yellow River (07B1). (SU4) Since 1000 tons of water produce one ton of grain, the shortfall in China's Hai River basin of nearly 40 billion tons of water/ year (1 ton equals 1 cubic meter) means that, when the aquifer is depleted, the grain harvest will drop by 40 million tons -- enough to feed 120 million Chinese (07B1). (SU4)
The North China Plain (pop: 200 million+) depends on groundwater for 60% of its supply. Those aquifers will be drained within 30 years at current rates of usage (07Y1). (SU4)
More than 80% of the wetlands along northern China's largest river system have dried up due to over-development or falling water tables. (J. Watts, (13/2/06). Water crisis: Wetlands sucked dry in China. The Guardian, International Section.) (06H2).
Under Hebei Province in the heart of the North China Plain, the average level of the deep aquifer was dropping nearly 3 meters (10 feet) per year. Around some cities in Hebei province, it was falling twice as fast (08B1).
A World Bank study indicates that Northern China is mining underground water in three adjacent river basins in the north: those of the Hai, which flows through Beijing and Tianjin; the Yellow; and the Huai, the next river south of the Yellow. Since it takes 1000 tons of water to produce one ton of grain, the shortfall in the Hai basin of nearly 40 billion tons of water per year (1 ton equals 1 cubic meter) means that when the aquifer is depleted, the grain harvest will drop by 40 million tons - enough to feed 120 million Chinese (08B1).
Wells drilled around Beijing (Northern China) have now reached 1000 meters to tap fresh water (World Bank, "Agenda for Water Sector Strategy for North China (Washington DC, April 2001).
China's North China Plain loses 37 billion tons of water a year, enough to produce 37 million tons of grain and feed 111 million Chinese (02E1). Comments: Interpretation unclear.
(Supply vs. Demand) A World Bank study of the water balance in the North China Plain calculated an annual deficit of 37 billion tons of water. Assuming 1,000 tons of water to produce 1 ton of grain, this is equal to 37 million tons of grain - enough to feed 111 million Chinese at current levels of consumption. In effect, 111 million Chinese are being fed with grain produced with water that belongs to their children (02B1).
(Siltation) Even as the Yellow River dries up, threats of flooding remain. Because a high level of fine, yellowish silt accumulates on its journey down the river. When it reaches the flat North China Plain, silt settles on the riverbed, raising it by 4-6 inches/ year. In some places, the Yellow River now flows within banks that rise 60 feet above the surrounding plain. Under the torrential rains of summer, the river swells rapidly, and any rupture of the embankments can cause havoc (02U1).
(Water Diversions) The Yellow River is not the only major Chinese river threatened by development. In 2000, Beijing announced its intention to go ahead with a gigantic project to divert water from the Yangtze River in three separate channels to the arid north, an idea ascribed to the late Mao Zedong. "The north of China needs water, and the south has plenty," Mao said in 1952. "If possible, the north may borrow some water from the south." According to preliminary estimates, 26 billion cubic yards of water from the Yangtze will be diverted annually to the north. Although this constitutes only a fraction of the river's annual flow, some scholars are already warning that the Yangtze will eventually run dry too (02U1).
(Groundwater Depletion) In China's breadbasket, the Northern China Plain, water tables are falling 5 feet a year (99U1).
(Ground water Depletion) Water tables under much of the North China Plain (producer of 40% of China's grain, has fallen 1.5 meters/ year for the past 5 years (98B3).
(Ground water Depletion) In 1999 the water table under Beijing fell 2.5 meters (8 feet). Since 1965, the water table under Beijing has fallen 59 meters - 200 feet. Southern China, with 700 million people, has 1/3 of China's cropland and 80% of its water. The north, with 550 million people, has 2/3 of the cropland and 20% of the water. The water table is dropping 1.5 meters/ year under the North China Plain, which stretches from just north of Shanghai to well north of Beijing, and produces 40% of China's grain (00B1).
(Ground water Depletion) North China's water deficit from groundwater over-pumping: 30 km3/ year (99P1).
(River Dry-up) China's Heaven River (50 km. south of Beijing) dried up around 1975 (95P2).
(Urban vs. Agricultural Water Use) Chinese officials, in early 1994, banned farmers from the reservoir around Beijing to provide water for the City (95B2).
(Urban Water Uses) In Beijing, 23% of water withdrawals are for industry (19% in Tiaujin). Industrial growth is 11%/ year (doubling every 7 years) (95B3).
(Ground water depletion) Beijing (no nearby rivers or lakes) has been drawing ground water at 900,000 tons/ year - 1/3 more than the water table can sustain. The People's Daily reports that the ground-water level has been dropping 1.2 meters/ year, and water has become increasingly polluted (87S1).
(Ground water Depletion) Water tables beneath Beijing have been dropping 2 meters/ year, and 1/3 of its wells have gone dry (Ref.16 of (92P1)). Beijing drew water from 15 ft. below ground in the 1950s. Today Beijing's 40,000 wells reach down an average of 49 meters. (93H1).
(Ground water Depletion) In an area of north-central China inhabited by 100 million people, the water table has dropped 30-35 m. over the past 2-3 decades (Ref. 15 of (98B1)).
(Ground water Depletion) Water tables in some areas of northern China are dropping 1-4 m/ year. Pumping exceeds sustainable supply by 25% (85P1). Ten major cities rely on ground water for basic supplies in this part of China (85P1).
(River Dry-up) So much water is siphoned off Northern China's rivers that the amount of water reaching the sea has dropped 93% since the 1950s (88P1).
(Ground water Depletion) The water table under Beijing (northern China) has fallen from 5 meters underground in 1950 to 50 meters below in 1993 (94B2) (Ref. 16, Chapter 8 of (94B1)).
(Ground water Depletion) In China's northern plain near Beijing and Tianjin, water tables are dropping 1-2 meters/ year (Ref. 15, Ch. 8 of (94B1)).
(Urban vs. Agricultural Water Use) There is acute competition for water in the northern China Plain where 25% of China's grain is produced (93G1).
(Ground water Depletion) Across northern China, the groundwater table sinks by 5 feet/ year because of over-pumping (02U1).
(River/ Lake Dry-up) As water tables fall in northern China, satellite photographs show hundreds of lakes and rivers disappearing (02U1).
In Yinchuan, the capital of Ningxia province in Inner Mongolia, with 6 million inhabitants, would be a desert without the Yellow River. Since 1949, agricultural land irrigated by the Yellow River in the province has expanded from 309,000 acres to 1.1 million. Part of this land is used to grow rice, a crop that requires twice as much water as corn or sorghum (02U1).
Originating in the Himalayas, the Yellow River traverses the high plateau of Qinchai province and the deserts of Inner Mongolia before entering the fertile plains of northern China. The desiccated inner provinces divert as much water as they can, leaving little for densely populated areas along the river's lower reaches. In Shandong, the last province before the Yellow River meets the Yellow Sea, the shortage of water has led to several riots in the past few years (02U1).
(Groundwater Depletion) Over-pumping has caused the water table under the North China Plain, which produces over half of China's wheat and a third of its corn, to drop by almost 10 feet last year. In some cities it fell by more than twice that. It cannot be replenished. A new World Bank report suggests that "deep wells around Beijing now have to reach 1,000 meters [more than half a mile]~to tap fresh water, adding dramatically to the cost of supply." In 1997, 99,900 out of 3.6 million wells were abandoned as they ran dry and 221,900 new wells were drilled to replace them. Due to excessive use, rivers that flow eastward into the North China Plain - the Hai, the Yellow, and the Huai - are going dry for part of the year, sometimes for extended periods of time. The flow of the Yellow River into the last province it passes before entering the sea has dropped from 40 billion tons a year in the early 1980s to 25 billion tons during the 1990s. Hebei Province once had 1,052 lakes; now only 83 remain. In the North China Plain, irrigated agriculture could largely disappear by 2010, forcing a shift back to less productive rain-fed agriculture. By 2010 while the population grows by an estimated 126 million people, the World Bank predicts that the country's urban water demand will jump from 50 billion to 80 billion tons, an increase of 60%. At the same time, industrial water demand will increase 62%. Water is worth 70 times as much to industry as it is to agriculture, so farmers usually lose out to cities in the competition for an ever-scarcer resource. Weak prices, falling water tables, and severe drought together caused China's grain harvest in 2001 to drop to 335 million tons, down from the all-time high of 392 million tons in 1998. 2001's harvest will fall short of projected consumption by 46 million tons, easily the biggest grain shortage in China's history. China's options include: a south/ north diversion of water from the Yangtze River Basin at a cost tens of billions of dollars and displacing hundreds of thousands of people; water conservation involving equally costly water-efficient household appliances, and more-efficient irrigation practices; and grain imports. Since it takes 1000 tons of water to produce one ton of grain, importing grain is the most efficient way to import water. If it imports even 10% of its grain supply - 40 million tons - it will become the world's largest grain importer overnight, putting intense pressure on exportable grain supplies and driving up global prices ("Chinese Water Table Torture; China's Water Table Levels are Dropping Fast", Grist magazine (10/26/01)).
[B2c] ~ Water Use ~ Far East ~ Japan ~
In 1995 the City of Fukvoka (southern Japan) bought irrigation water from 700 rice growers to avoid water shortages (95B2).
[B2d] ~ Water Use ~ Far East ~ South Korea ~
South Korea's precipitation = 120 cm./ year. Runoff = 63-70 km3/ year, Dependable water supply (surface- + ground-water) = 47 km3/ year (39 km3/ year from ground-water. South Korea's 1976 water-use = 14 km3/ year (53% for irrigation) (81G1).
[B2e] ~ Water Use ~ Far East ~ Taiwan ~
(Groundwater Depletion) Illegal pumping of groundwater is causing about 7% of Taiwan to sink. 1000 km2 along the western shoreline and Taipei Basin have been sinking at 2.7 meters/ 14 years (95U1).
Part [B3] ~ Water Use ~ Middle East ~ [B3a]~Iran, [B3b]~Iraq, [B3c]~Israel, [B3d]~Jordan, [B3e]~Lebanon, [B3f]~Palestine, [B3g]~Saudi Arabia, [B3h]~Syria, [B3i]~Egypt, [B3j]~Turkey, [B3k]~Yemen, [B3l]~Qatar, [B3m]~Pakistan, ~
The river Jordon is under threat of drying up during summer and reduced to a meager flow during winter, due to Israel, Jordan and Syria embarking on massive water diversion programs. The Jordan is the border between Israel, the West Bank and Jordan and flows through the world's most contested land. Fifty years ago, the river's flow was a billion m3 annually but with Israel, Syria and Jordan siphoning water from the Jordan and its tributary, the Yarmouk, for national water carriers, it is less than 100 million m3 - including 22 million m3 of saline water and 20 million m3 of untreated sewage. Jordan and Syria are building a dam on the Yarmouk River that will further decrease Jordan'sflow. A recent report found low flow rates made the river more susceptible to external pollution. If nothing was done to improve the flow, in some areas the river will be dry. The Jordan River ends at the Dead Sea that has shrunk by 30% in the past 50 years. Some 14 wetlands are facing a precarious future ("Middle East Conflict Decimates Jordan River", Scotsman (9/12/04)).
Water resources of the 15-nation Arab state region are usually much below the world average of 20 m3/ caput/ day. The region as a whole can count on less than 3 m3/ capita/ day; 65% of its population has less than 2000 m3/ capita/ year - 5.5 m3/ capita/ day (World Bank, "World development report; Development and the Environment", Washington (1992)).
Water resources of the 15-nation Arab state region are usually much below the world average of 20 m3/ capita/ day. The region as a whole can count on less than 3 m3/ capita/ day; 65% of its population has less than 2000 m3/ capita/ year - 5.5 m3/ capita/ day (World Bank, "World development report; Development and the Environment", Washington (1992)) (96M2).
Distribution of Annual Water Withdrawals in the 15-country Arab States Region (%) World Resources Institute (1994) (96M2) (C2 is Domestic Use as a % of all uses; C3 is Industrial Use as a % of all uses; C4 is Agricultural use as a % of all uses.)
Country~ | C2| C3| C4
Morocco~ | ~6| ~3| 92
Algeria~ | 22| ~4| 74
Tunisia~ | 13| ~7| 80
Libya~ ~ | 15| 10| 75
Egypt~ ~ | ~7| ~5| 88
Sudan~ ~ | ~1| ~?| 99
Djibouti | 28| 21| 51
Somalia~ | ~3| ~?| 97
S. Arabia| 45| ~8| 47
Yemen~ ~ | ~5| ~2| 93
Oman ~ ~ | ~3| ~3| 94
U.A.Emir.| 11| ~9| 80
Kuwait ~ | 64| 32| ~4
Iraq ~ ~ | ~3| ~5| 92
Jordan ~ | 29| ~6| 65
Syria~ ~ | ~7| 10| 83
Lebanon~ | 11| ~4| 85
Turkey ~ | 24| 19| 57
WORLD~ ~ | ~8| 23| 69
The Middle East imports food that would require two Nile Rivers to produce locally ("Half World's Population Could Lack Adequate Water by 2025", Agence France Presse (3/10/03)).
High subsidies for agricultural water by all countries of the Middle East contribute to inefficient use for agriculture (Ref. 38 of (94G1)).
International River Basins in the Middle East (94G1)
River - -|Area(km2)|Countries (1000 km2)Tigris ~ | ~378,850|Iran(220) Iraq(110) Turkey(48) Syria(.85)
Euphrates| ~444,000|Iraq(177) Turkey(125) Syria(76) Saudi Arabia(66)
Orontes~ | ~ 13,300|Syria(9.7) Turkey(2.) Lebanon (1.6)
Jordan ~ | ~ 19,850|Jordan(7.65) Syria(7.15) Israel(4.1) Lebanon(0.95)
Nile ~ ~ |3,031,000|Sudan(1900) Ethiopia(368) Egypt(300) Uganda(233)
-~ ~ ~ ~ | ~ ~ ~ ~ | Tanzania(116) Kenya(55) Zaire(23)
-~ ~ ~ ~ | ~ ~ ~ ~ | Rwanda(21.5) Burundi (14.5)
[B3a] ~ Water Use ~ Middle East ~ Iran ~
Iran, (71 million people) is over-pumping its aquifers by 5 billion tons of water/ year, the water equivalent of one third of its annual grain harvest. Under the small but agriculturally rich Chenaran Plain in northeastern Iran, the water table was falling by 2.8 meters a year during the late 1990s (08B1).
Iran, a country of 70 million people, is over-pumping its aquifers by an average of 5 billion tons of water per year, the water equivalent of one third of its annual grain harvest. Under the small but agriculturally rich Chenaran Plain in northeastern Iran, the water table was falling by 2.8 meters a year in the late 1990s. New wells being drilled both for irrigation and to supply the nearby city of Mashad are responsible. Villages in eastern Iran are being abandoned as wells go dry (07B1).
Over-pumping of aquifers in Iran is estimated at 5 billion tons (probably tonnes) per year. When Iran's aquifers are depleted, Iran's grain harvest could drop by 5 million tons (probably tonnes) per year - a third of Iran's current harvest (05B1). (SU4)
(Ground water Depletion) 33% of Iran's cultivated area depend on over-drafted groundwater (96G1).
(Ground water Depletion) In northern Iran's agriculturally rich Chenaran Plain the water table was falling by 2.8 meters/ year in the late 1990s. In 2001 the aquifer dropped 8 meters after a three-year drought and the new wells being drilled for irrigation and to supply a nearby city (02E1).
Iran, a country of 70 million people, faces an acute shortage of water (02B1).
(Ground water Depletion) Under the agriculturally rich Chenaran Plain in northeastern Iran, the water table was falling by 2.8 meters/ year in the late 1990s. But in 2001 the cumulative effect of a three-year drought and the new wells being drilled both for irrigation and to supply the nearby city of Mashad dropped the aquifer by 8 meters. Villages in eastern Iran are being abandoned as wells go dry, generating a swelling flow of water refugees (02B1). (See http://www.earth-policy.org/Updates/Update15.htm http://www.earth-policy.org/Updates/Update15.htm for additional examples.)
[B3b] ~ Water Use ~ Middle East ~ Iraq ~
Iraq's water resources infrastructure has been threatened by increased abstractions upstream of the international border (in Turkey) on the Euphrates River. Water flows into Iraq from Turkey have been reduced (by Turkey's dam construction) from about 30 km3/ year to about 10 km3/ year. Low water-use efficiency, particularly in Iraq's irrigation sector, and the lack of investment in water infrastructure in Iraq and within neighboring countries dependant on the Euphrates, has further aggravated Iraq's water supply problem. Demand for irrigation water in Iraq greatly exceeds the available capacity (04R1).
In 1975 war nearly broke out between Iraq and Syria over Syria's alleged reduced flow of water from its Euphrates River dam (Al-Thawra) (Ref.14 of (94G1)). Large portions of the waters of the Euphrates River that enter Iraq from Turkey contain high concentrations of both agricultural chemicals and salts (94G1). Average runoff of the Euphrates River = 33 km3/ year. Average runoff from the Tigris River = 47 km3/ year (Ref. 10 of (94G1)). Runoff from the Euphrates River in dry years has been as little as 30% of average annual flow (94G1).
About 90% of Mesopotamian marshlands near the confluence of the Tigris/ Euphrates, the "fertile crescent", have been lost through drainage and damming. (Financial Times (London) (8/14/01))
[B3c] ~ Water Use ~ Middle East ~ Israel ~
Israel's thirst for fresh water means it pump vast amounts of water from the Sea of Galilee to meet the needs of farmers, gardeners and ordinary citizens as far away as the Negev desert. The result is the Sea falling by 1-2 cm./ day. On many beaches, the Sea has retreated by as much as 150 meters. Fish stocks are falling sharply as shoreline breeding grounds disappear. The Sea of Galilee supplies fresh water to the taps of 40% of Israelis. The authorities are risking the long-term health of Israel's biggest lake. The Sea of Galilee could eventually succumb to over-salinization. Israel is devoting far too much of the precious resource to agriculture. Farmers are using subsidized water to grow bananas, flowers and other produce that is simply not suited to Israel's desert climate. According to a recent report, farmers use 40% of Israel's fresh water. With much of their produce sold abroad, this equates to exporting water from the dry Middle East to rain-soaked northern Europe (Tobias Buck, "Draining the Sea of Galilee," China Dialogue (8/29/08)).
Israel, even though it is a pioneer in raising irrigation water productivity, is depleting both of its principal aquifers -- the coastal aquifer and the mountain aquifer that it shares with Palestinians. Israel's population, whose growth is fueled by both natural increase and immigration, is outgrowing its water supply. Conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians over the allocation of water in the latter area are ongoing. Because of water shortages, Israel has banned the irrigation of wheat (07B1).
Israel, faced with dwindling water supplies, is no longer irrigating its small remaining area of wheat, which means that dependence on imported grain, already over 90%, will climb still higher (04B1).
Israel's Irrigation Lands Allocation among outputs (in units of km2) (01P1):
550 Vegetables / 526 Fruit / 280 Citrus / 20 flowers / 554 Cotton, Maize, others / (Total 1930)
Israel's Water Sources (in units of km3) (01P1):
Sea of Galilee 0.5 / Coastal aquifers 0.7 / Hills Aquifer 0.46 / Reclaimed 0.22 / Golan Dam 0.04 / (Total = 1.92)
Israel's Water Uses (in units of km3) (01P1): Irrigation 1.25 / Urban 0.67 / (Total 1.92)
Israel's water use per unit area of irrigated land: 820,000 m3/ km2 in 1951; 520,000 in 1985. Over the same period, output per m3 nearly tripled, and the value (in real terms) jumped 10-fold (p. 185 of (99P1)). Comments: Elsewhere in this review it is noted that Israeli irrigated land supports 1000 people/ km2, vs. 250 as a global average.
(Ground water Depletion) The coastal aquifer, which lies largely beneath Israel, and the mountain aquifer, (mostly under Palestinian territory), are at their danger points (01R2).
Israel imports more than 90% of its grain (02B1).
Israel's home water consumption: near 80 gallons/ day/ person (01R2).
A 2000 report for the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies concluded that Israeli water policy is, and has been, an unmitigated disaster, producing waste, misallocation, and environmental destruction (01R2).
A trickle of sewage now runs where the Jordan River once flowed. Water levels in the Dead Sea are so low that it is now two separate seas (Jad Isaac, "The Environmental Impact of the Israeli Occupation", Director-General, Applied Research Institute in Jerusalem (3/14/00).).
The Sea of Galilee has been pumped almost to its limit. It is now so low that salt deposits endanger its sweet water. Israel's other main sources, aquifers in mountains and along the Mediterranean coast, are depleted by the worst drought in a century. They are being tapped much faster than engineers advise (01R2).
Nitrates have reached 100-150 ppm. in parts of the Israeli coastal aquifer (77A2). 50 ppm. is the US limit for drinking water (77A2). Pesticide levels in these coastal aquifers and in the blood of Israelis are among the highest anywhere (77A2). Comments: The nitrate limit in Europe is also 50 ppm.
Salinity in Israel's coastal aquifers is increasing 2-3%/ year, and will double in 25 years. Aquifer salinization and contamination will be further accelerated by the proposed recycling of sewage (77A2). By 1985, 25% of water used in agriculture will be treated sewage. Desalinization plants will be required well before 2000 because of aquifer salinization - greatly increasing the need for Arab oil (77A2). Decades of over-pumping have caused sea water to invade Israel's coastal aquifer. About 20% of the aquifer is contaminated by salts or nitrates from urban or agricultural pollution (92P1).
(Groundwater Salinity) About 10% of Israel's wells in the coastal aquifer yield water that is too salty for irrigation of crops (Ref. 38 of (96G2)).
(Ground water Depletion) Israeli water officials predict that 20% of coastal wells may need to be closed within a few years due to salt-water intrusion (Ref. 8 of (96P1)).
Israel's water-use exceeds renewable supplies by 0.3 km3/ year, i.e. by 15% (92P1) (Ref. 12 of (93P2)). 25-40% of Israel's sustainable water supply comes from the Yargon-Taninim Aquifer that runs along the foothills of the West Bank and then westward toward the Mediterranean Sea (92P1). M. R. Lewis (Princeton U.) estimates the average amount of renewable fresh water available to Israel is 1.95 km3/ year, 60% from groundwater. Current Israeli demand = 2.2 km3/ year, including settlements in occupied territories and Golan Heights (93D1). The deficit comes from over-pumping aquifers (93D1).
Israel will use brackish fossil water of the deep (500-1000 m.) Nubian Sandstone aquifer that spreads across Sinai and western Negev. 30 million m3/ year could be used without any effect on the aquifer, and 0.1 km3/ year for 10 years would only deplete the aquifer by 10% (77A2).
Israel uses over 95% of the annually replenishable water available. By 1985, demand will reach 2 km3/ year, 25% more than the total water available from all natural sources (77A2). Water is being used with salinities as high as 10% that of sea water (3500 ppm.) (Brackish water) (77A2).
(Ground water Depletion) Gaza's aquifer is being severely over-exploited and salinized, to the extent that wells are going dry, water is becoming unpalatable, and in some areas, non-useable for irrigation (93L1).
Israel's water-use exceeds its renewable supply by 15%. About 25-40% of Israel's supply comes from the Yarqon-Taninim Aquifer. Israel's coastal aquifer is being invaded by seawater. About 20% of this aquifer is contaminated by salt or nitrates from pollution (93P1). 5% of Israel's water-use is recycled waste water (94G1). About 70% of Israel's sewage is treated and used as irrigation water for 190 km2 of agricultural land (Ref. 28 of (93P2)). About 40% of groundwater used by Israel - and over 33% of its sustainable water yield - comes from the occupied territories (Ref. 8 of (94G1)). The long-term potential yield of the West Bank Aquifers is less than 0.7 km3/ year, of which 0.18 km3 is brackish (Ref. 9 of (94G1)). When Syria tried to divert the headwaters of the Jordan River in the mid-1960s, Israel used military force against the diversion (Ref. 7 of (94G1)). These actions contributed to the tensions that led to the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, the occupation of the West Bank and the control over much of the headwaters of the Jordan River by Israel (94G1).
[B3d] ~ Water Use ~ Middle East ~ Jordan ~
While Israel and Jordan signed a treaty that included an agreement on water allocation, Jordan has, thus far, not yet received 50 million cubic meters (mcm) of water that Israel has conceded to Jordan (05U1).
Sources of Water use in Jordan in 1997 (million m3) (02J1) (L. S. = Livestock)
Source - - - - - - |Municip.|Indust.|Irrig. | L.S. |TotalSurface Water~ ~ ~ | 58.071 | 1.893 |264.486| 4.000|328.45
~Jordan Rift Valley| 38.441 | 1.893 |194.486| 0.000|234.82
~Springs ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | 19.630 | 0.000 |*30.000| 0.000| 49.63
~Base & Flood~ ~ ~ | ~0.000 | 0.000 |*40.000|*4.000| 44.00
Ground water ~ ~ ~ |177.557 |35.343 |266.189| 7.118|486.21
~Renewable ~ ~ ~ ~ |168.679 |31.552 |207.119| 0.001|413.35
~Nonrenewable~ ~ ~ | ~8.878 | 3.791 | 59.070| 0.117| 72.86
Treated Waste Water| ~0.000 | 0.000 | 61.000| 0.000| 61.00
~Registered~ ~ ~ ~ | ~0.000 | 0.000 | 57.300| 0.000| 57.30
~Not registered~ ~ | ~0.000 | 0.000 | ~3.700| 0.000| ~3.70Totals ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ |235.628 |37.236 |591.675|11.118|875.66
(Wastewater) Of the treated wastewater discharged in 1997 (65 million m3) about 56 million m3 was indirectly used for irrigation in Jordan Valley (02J1). By 2020, it is expected that Jordan's volume of treated wastewater available will amount to 220 million m3/ year (02J1).
(Ground water Inventory) The main non-renewable groundwater resource in Jordan exists in the Disi aquifer in the South, with a safe yield of 125 million m3/ year for 50 years. Other nonrenewable groundwater resources are estimated at a safe yield of 18 million m3/ year (02J1).
(Ground water Inventory) Jordan's long-term safe yield of renewable groundwater resources has been estimated at 275 million m3/ year (02J1).
(Ground water Depletion) Some of Jordan's renewable groundwater resources are presently exploited to their maximum capacity and some beyond safe yield. Over-exploitation of ground water aquifers, beyond the annual potential replenishable quantities, has and will contribute significantly to the degradation of ground water quality in exploited aquifers, and endangers sustainability of these resources (02J1).
(Ground water Inventory) Approximately 80% of Jordan's known groundwater reserves are contained in three main aquifer systems; (1) Amman - Wadi As Seer; (2) Basalt; and (3) Rum aquifer (02J1).
(Surface Water Inventory) Jordan's surface water resources average about 693 million m3. The collective long term average base flow for all basins is 359 million m3/ year. Flood flow is estimated at 334 million m3/ year. Yarmuk River Basin, Jordan's greatest source of surface water, accounts for 40% of annual total. This includes water flowing from Syrian territories within the Yarmuk Basin. The Yarmuk River is the major tributary of King Abdullah Canal, which is considered to be the backbone of agricultural development in the Jordan Valley. Other surface resources include the Zarqa River and several wadis that run west from the highlands to the Jordan Rift Area. The Zarqa River flow is augmented by treated wastewater from As Samra and other treatment plants serving Amman and Zarqa areas. To date about 500 million m3/ year of surface water has been developed for irrigation, municipal and industrial use. Full development has been impeded by regional considerations, related riparian rights of the Yarmuk River, and the high cost to develop and transport the remaining sources of water, estimated at 11 $ US/ m3 (02J1).
Jordan's projected supply, demand and deficit (02J1)
Year|Supply|Demand|Deficit (million m3/ year)1995| ~882 | 1104 |(222)
2000| ~960 | 1257 |(297)
2005| 1169 | 1407 |(238)
2010| 1206 | 1457 |(251)
2015| 1225 | 1550 |(325)
2020| 1250 | 1658 |(408)
Jordan's renewable water resources (750 million m3/ year) include ground water at 277 million m3/ year and surface water at 692 million m3/ year of which only 70% is of economic use. An additional 143 million m3/ year is estimated to be available from fossil aquifers. Brackish aquifers are not yet fully explored, but at least 50 million m3/ year is expected to be accessible for urban uses after desalinization (02J1).
The total renewable freshwater resources of Jordan average 750 million m3/ year. Per-capita use of water was 160 m3/ year in 1997 and declines at a rate equal to that of population increase. Renewable water resources fall short of actual demand, which translates into increased food imports. The deficit in food balance reached $110/ capita in 1996 (02J1).
Jordan is an arid to semi-arid country of 92,000 km2. Rainfall intensities vary from 60 cm./ year in the north west to less than 20 in the eastern and southern deserts (91% of Jordan's surface area) (02J1). The average total rainfall on Jordan is 7.2 km3/ year, and it varies between 6.-11.5 km3/ year. 85% of rainfall evaporates, the rest flows in rivers and wadis as flood flows and recharges groundwater. Groundwater recharge: 4%, surface water; 11% of total rainfall (02J1). Jordan's population is growing about 3.5%/ year. In 1997, the population of Jordan was 4.6 million. The settlement pattern is heavily influenced by water availability. About 91% of the population lives in northwestern Jordan (02J1).
(Water Losses) Government officials estimate that over 50% of Jordan's domestic water supplies are lost due to worn-out infrastructure and theft (Amman Jordan Times, 4/20/99). The region is suffering one of its worst droughts in decades, and Israeli officials have announced they must cut the amount of water owed to Jordan under a water-sharing pact (UN Wire, 4/20/99).
(River Dry-Up) Jordan River flows at 1/4 the 1950 level, and is increasingly saline (93L1).
Jordan River's basin is 20,000 km2 and 360 km. long. Average precipitation in the watershed is under 20 cm/ year (Ref. 5 of (94G1)). Near its mouth, the Jordan River is too salty to use. Total average unimpaired flow of Jordan River = 1.85 km3/ year. Israel uses 1.6-1.8 km3/ year from all sources, including 0.6 km3 from Jordan River and 0.8 km3/ year from ground-water aquifers + 0.36 km3/ year from reuse of waste-water (94G1). Jordan uses 0.7-0.9 km3/ year from all sources including ground-water (Ref. 6 of (94G1)). 2/3 of Israel's fresh water comes from the occupied territories on the Jordan River Basin (94G1).
(Supply/ Demand) Residents of Amman, the capital of Jordan, can turn their tap water on only one day a week," writes Senator Simon. "Syria faces problems almost as severe, and Israel has had to curtail water use dramatically (Paul Simon Warns of Population Growth's Impact on Middle East Water Crisis Chicago Tribune/ NPG (10/12/01)).
(Ground water Depletion) Jordan and Yemen withdraw 30% more water from ground-water aquifers than is being replenished (98H1).
[B3e] ~ Water Use ~ Middle East ~ Lebanon ~
Lebanon's groundwater aquifers have dropped from 150 ft. below the surface to nearly 600 ft. (01P1). (su4)
The al-Wazzani spring in Lebanon just inside the border with Israel has been partially retaken by Lebanon. It provides about 3% of Israel's water consumption. Almost all the water from the al-Wazzani spring and the Hasbani river the spring feds still flows into Israel. That water supplies about 6% of Israel's total water consumption of 71 billion ft3/ year (01P1).
(Surface Water Inventory) Average annual flow in Litani River (Lebanon) is a little over 0.9 km3/ year. 50% of the average flow is now used - primarily for irrigation (94G1).
[B3f] ~ Water Use ~ Middle East ~ Palestine ~
On average, 70% of total annual rainfall in Israel and Palestine falls in December, January and February. Of that rainfall, 75% is immediately lost through evaporation (Isaac, Jad & Jan Selby, "The Palestinian Water Crisis - Status, Projections and Potential for Resolution", Natural Resource Forum, 20(1) pp. 17-26, (1996)).
Lake Tiberias is the major regional water reservoir in the international Jordan River basin. It has a storage capacity of 4,000 million cubic meters (mcm) and receives an average annual replenishment of about 840 mcm from the Upper Jordan, local runoff, adjacent springs and local rainfall (05U1).
The rainfall in Palestine's West Bank is estimated at 2,597 million cubic meters (mcm)/ year. Around 600 mcm of this is estimated to infiltrate the soil to replenish the aquifers annually. The remainder is lost either through surface runoff or evaporation (05U1). The system of aquifers under the West Bank is divided according to flow direction into the following three units (05U1): NOTE: mcm = million cubic meters.
- The Western Basin aquifers under Palestine's West Bank is the largest and has a safe yield of 350 mcm per year;
- The Northeastern Basin aquifers under Palestine's West Bank has an annual safe yield of 140 mcm;
- The Eastern Basin aquifers under Palestine's West Bank has a safe yield of 125 mcm per year.
Table 2: Fresh groundwater balance of the Gaza Governate (1995)
Inflow Component ~ ~ ~ ~|MCM/| Outflow Component ~ ~ ~ |MCM/
- - - - - - - - - - - - |year| ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ |yearAverage recharge by rain|21| Domestic abstraction~ ~ ~ |32
Recharge from wadis ~ ~ | 0| Irrigation abstraction~ ~ |40
Groundwater from Israel | 7| Industrial abstraction~ ~ | 1
Return flow (domestic)~ |13| Settlements abstraction ~ | 6
Return flow (irrigation)|18| Groundwater outflow ~ ~ ~ | 2
Brackish water inflow ~ |20| Evaporation in Mawasy area| 0
- - - - - - - - - - - - | ~| Drop in groundwater table |-2
Total ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ |79| Total ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ |79
Source: Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, 1996 (05U1)
The Gaza Strip receives an annual average of 325.7 mm of rainfall, 117.25 mcm/ year (million cubic meters/ year) (See Table 2 above). Much of this is lost to evaporation, so the capacity of Gaza's aquifers is around 65 mcm/ year (05U1). Comments: Table 2 above is obsolete, given the huge population growth rate in the Gaza Strip. If the return flows and abstraction rates are corrected to an estimated 50% population growth since 1995, the drop in groundwater table would now (2005) be 74 mcm/ year assuming no increase in brackish water inflow. Such increases in drops in the groundwater table suggest significant increases in brackish water inflow, which endanger the integrity of the aquifer (See below). The population of Gaza is expected to nearly double between 2000 and 2020.
Ground water in Gaza, which is estimated to have a potential of 65 mcm/ year is Gaza's only source for fresh water. At present, more than 100 million cubic meters (mcm) per year are pumped from these shallow aquifers that are resulting in the gradual invasion of seawater into Gaza Strip aquifers (See Table 2 above). Many hydrologists believe that the Gaza Strip aquifers have already passed the point of no return (05U1). Tests show increased salinity levels to, in some cases, greater than 1500 ppm of chloride, making the water unsuitable for drinking (1993 data).
(Water Politics) Palestinian leaders say their 1995 water pact with Israel gives each Palestinian less than a third as much water as the average Israeli (Rebecca Trounson, Los Angeles Times (4/18/99)).
The US is spending $250 million on water projects in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (Rebecca Trounson, Los Angeles Times (4/18/99).
(Water Politics) Irrigating the Negev desert has meant less water for the West Bank and Gaza. Near the city of Nablus the village of Beit Dajan (population 3500) relies on 3 water tankers to bring water from wells in Nablus. The waiting time for a tanker load is one month. However, the 10 m3 delivered to each household is only enough for one week (02J2). A third of Palestine's residents survive off of food aid, and cannot afford $35 per delivery of water. A quarter of Palestinians lack access to potable water. Palestinian sources estimate Israeli water consumption is 4-10 times that of the Palestinians (02J2).
(Water Politics) At least 215,000 West Bank Arabs with no piped supply have to survive on bottled water when nearby springs go dry. Marwan Haddad at An-Najah University in Nablus estimates that Israeli households get 10 times more water (than Palestinians) (01R2).
(Water Politics) Jews in Israel get just over twice as much water/ capita as Arabs. The numbers are in sharp dispute, however, partly because of how they are calculated and partly because some water data is secret. According to B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Israelis get five times as much water as Palestinians per-person. In Gaza, the water ratio is 7-1 (01R2).
Desalinization plants are now being planned in Palestine, but the first two, not expected to operate before 2004, will meet 5% of normal demand (01R2).
(Water Politics) In Palestine's Gaza Strip, a few thousand Jewish settlers have ample water piped from Israel, while a million Palestinians pump the last drinkable waters of underground rivers polluted by encroaching seawater and sewage (01R2).
[B3g] ~ Water Use ~ Middle East ~ Saudi Arabia ~
Saudi Arabia (25 million people) relies heavily on subsidies; it developed an extensive irrigated agriculture based largely on its deep fossil aquifer. After several years of supporting wheat prices at five times the world market level, the Saudi government was forced to face fiscal reality and cut the subsidies. Its wheat harvest dropped from a high of 4.1 million tons in 1992 to 2.7 million tons in 2007. Some Saudi farmers now pump water from wells that are 4000 feet deep (1.2 km.) (08B1).
Saudi Arabia, (Pop: 25 million) Relying heavily on subsidies, Saudi Arabia developed an extensive irrigated agriculture based largely on its deep fossil aquifer. After several years of using oil money to support wheat prices at five times the world market level, the Saudi government was forced to cut subsidies. Saudi Arabia's wheat harvest dropped from a high of 4 million tons in 1992 to 2 million tons in 2005. Some Saudi farmers are now pumping water from wells 1200 meters deep (nearly four fifths of a mile) (07B1).
(Ground water Depletion) Agricultural production threatens to drain Saudi Arabia's underground water resources within the next 10-20 years (se90W1). (su4) (See my topsoil review document for Ref. (90W1).)
(Ground water Depletion) Fossil groundwater is mined for 75% of Saudi Arabia's water needs. Groundwater depletion has been averaging 5.2 km3/ year (92P1). If 80% of the reserve is exploitable, the supply will be exhausted in 52 years (Ref. 10 of (93P2)).
(Ground water Depletion) Over-reliance on a fossil aquifer to expand grain production contributed to a 62% drop in grain harvest between 1994-96 (97B2). Saudi Arabian grain production is plotted vs. time (1960-1996) in (97B2).
Saudi Arabia imports over 70% of its grain (02B1). Comments: It lacks the water for growing its own.
(Ground water Depletion) Some 75% of groundwater used in agriculture on the Arabian Peninsula is not replenished (Ref. 33 of (96G2)). (su4)
Some 16 km3/ year of water are withdrawn from Arabian aquifers. Removable volume= 500,000 km3 (94S1). 25% of the Arab people live in areas entirely dependent on non-renewable groundwater or on expensive desalinized sea water (Ref. 3 of (94G1)). For many of the major rivers of the Middle East, flows in dry years may be as low as 1/2 to 1/3 of the average yearly flow, and there is a long history of persistent and severe drought (Ref. 4 of (94G1)).
[B3h] ~ Water Use ~ Middle East ~ Syria ~
Syria's over-pumping of aquifers for irrigation has brought about saltwater intrusions into its coastal plains (96M2). (su4)
The growing population in Syria's capital Damascus (now 3 million) has sucked the Baroda River nearly dry (91W1). (su4)
The Euphrates River supplies about 60% of Syria's water. Turkish GAP dam building has cut the Euphrates River's flow into Syria by over 50% over 1986-1990 (91W1).
[B3i] ~ Water Use ~ Middle East ~ Egypt ~
The Nile delta provides 60% of Egypt's food. Comments: Does this include the large amount of food aid from the US as part of the peace accord with Israel? (09U2)
The Nile, site of another ancient civilization, now barely makes it to the sea. Water analyst Sandra Postel, in Pillar of Sand, notes that before the Aswan Dam was built, 32 billion m3/ year of water reached the Mediterranean Sea. After the dam was completed, increasing irrigation, evaporation, and other demands reduced its discharge to less than 2 billion m3 (07B1).
Egypt's River Nile system has been so modified that nearly all water is diverted by a dense network of irrigation canals throughout the valley and delta, and no fresh water reaches the sea. The little Nile water that now approaches the coast is polluted agricultural runoff and industrial-municipal waste (Ref. 2 of (93S1)) that spills into 4 coastal lagoons. During the past six years, the average annual inflow into Aswan Dam has been 42.9 km3 (Ref. 8 of (86S2)). 1985 demand for Aswan water = 59.5 km3) (Ref. 8 of (86S2)) (49.7 for irrigation, 3.9 for power, 3.3 for industrial use, 2.5 for domestic consumption).
[B3j] ~ Water Use ~ Middle East ~ Turkey ~
The Tigris River starts in Turkey. Turkey's GAP Plan involves 7 dams on the Tigris River supplying 6 km3/ year to 6000 km2 of irrigated land. The Tigris River then flows into Iraq. Before GAP the flow was 20 km3/ year. After GAP the flow will be 14 km3/ year (01T1).
The Euphrates River starts in Turkey. Turkey's GAP Plan involves 14 dams and the irrigation of 11,000 km2 with 10 km3 of water per year. The Euphrates River then flows into Syria. Before GAP the flow into Syria was 39 km3/ year, but the GAP Plan will reduce that to 15.8 km3/ year. The Euphrates then flows into Iraq. The flow into Iraq before GAP was 12.5 km3/ year. After GAP the flow into Iraq will be 2.5 km3/ year (01T1).
Turkey's Southeast Anatolia Project (15 dams, 18 hydroelectric plants when completed) will have a stranglehold on both the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers. The project will irrigate 16,000 km2 (90U2).
Turkey's water development project GAP (Southeast Anatolia Project) could reduce the Euphrates River flow into Syria by 35% in normal years (93P1). 90% of the water in the Euphrates River originates in Turkey that has 28% of the Euphrates River watershed (94G1).
The Euphrates River originates in Turkey and flows south through Syria and Iraq. A Turkish dam-building program known as the Greater Anatolia Project (GAP) is one of the most massive water infrastructure projects in history. It will provide Turkey with 7,500 megawatts of electricity and irrigate over 15000 km2 (Kolars and Mitchell 1991). Turkey's population grows l.6%/ year. GAP could reduce the Euphrates' flow into Syria 40%, and reduce flow into Iraq by 80%. This could reduce the electrical output of one of Syria's primary power sources to 12% of capacity, while Iraq could lose irrigation water to 20% of its total arable land. Reduction of the river's flow, combined with Turkish development fueled by the project, will increase the Euphrates' salinity level (Jansen 1990). Syria and Iraq have threatened war over access to the Euphrates (Wolf 1996) (98U2).
Sources cited in the above paragraph:
Jansen, Godfrey, "Euphrates Tussle," Middle East Intl. (2/16/90)
Kolars, John and William Mitchell, The Euphrates River and the Southeast Anatolia Development Project. Southern Illinois U Press: Carbondale, IL (1991).
Wolf, Aaron, "Middle East Water Conflicts and Directions for Resolution" Food, Agriculture, and the Environment Discussion Paper 12. Intl. Food Policy Research Inst. Washington DC (1996).
[B3k] ~ Water Use ~ Middle East ~ Yemen ~
In Sanaa, Capital of Yemen (pop 2 million) those who receive piped water get it once or twice per week. Others get none. Some 80 of the city's 180 wells have run dry. Sanaa's population increases by 8%/ year. Some 5% of Sanaa's annual growth is from migrants from the parched countryside. (the rural-to-urban migration) (09U2).
In Yemen (22 million people) the water table under most of Yemen is falling by roughly 2 meters a year as water use outstrips the sustainable yield of aquifers. In western Yemen's Sana'a Basin, the estimated annual water extraction of 224 million tons exceeds the annual recharge of 42 million tons by a factor of five, dropping the water table 6 meters / year. World Bank projections indicate the Sana'a Basin, site of the national capital (Sana'a) and home to 2 million people -- may be pumped dry by 2010. With Yemen's population growing at 3%/ year and with water tables falling everywhere, with its grain production falling by two thirds over the last 20 years, Yemen now imports 80% of its grain supply (08B1). Comments: Yemen has one of the Muslim world's most rapidly growing populations. Gaza is the other region of abnormally rapid population growth in the Muslim world.
In Sana, the capital of Yemen, the water table is falling 20 feet a year. Quetta, in Pakistan, designed for 50,000 people, now has 1 million people depending on 2,000 wells depleting a non-replenishable aquifer. Villages in northwestern India have been abandoned because over-pumping depleted their aquifers. Millions in parts of China and Mexico may have to move because of a lack of water. The Gobi Desert in China is growing by 4000 square miles a year forcing people to leave because the aquifer was depleted. In Iran, villages abandoned because of spreading deserts already number in the thousands. In Nigeria, 3500 km2 becomes desert each year. The sea level could rise by nearly 3 feet this century. That would inundate half of Bangladesh's rice-growing land, forcing the relocation of 40 million people. Other Asian countries with rice-growing river floodplains, could bolster the mass exodus from rising seas to the hundreds of millions ("Environmental Refugees: When the Soil Dies and the Well Dries", Earth Policy Institute (2/13/04)).
In Yemen, (Population: 21 million), the water table under most of Yemen is falling by roughly 2 meters a year. In western Yemen's Sana'a Basin, the estimated water extraction of 224 million tons/ year exceeds the annual recharge of 42 million tons, dropping the water table 6 meters per year. World Bank projections indicate Yemen's Sana'a Basin -- site of the national capital, Sana'a, and home to 2 million people -- will be pumped dry by 2010. The Yemeni government has drilled test wells in the basin that are 2 km (1.2 miles) deep but they have failed to find water (07B1). (SU4)
The World Bank reports that Yemen's water table is falling by 2 meters/ year or more (05B1). (SU4)
Among the new refugees are people being forced to move because of aquifer depletion and wells running dry. Thus far the evacuations have been of villages, but eventually whole cities might have to be relocated, such as Sana'a, the capital of Yemen. The World Bank expects Sana'a, where the water table is falling by 6 meters/ year, to exhaust its remaining water supply by 2010. At that point, its leaders will either have to bring water in from a distant point or abandon the city. (Lester R. Brown, "Troubling New Flows of Environmental Refugees", Earth Policy Institute (1/28/04)).
(Groundwater Depletion) Yemen is a poor country with nearly 20 million people. Close to half of them live in poverty. Yemen's population is growing rapidly; by 2045, projections show it will have nearly as many people as Germany. Most of its population lives too far from the coast to make transportation of desalinated water practical. Most of Yemen's water is drawn from an aquifer that is likely to be depleted within a couple of decades. Yemen uses half of the water it draws from that reservoir to grow qat, a habituating stimulant (05W1).
(Groundwater Depletion) In Yemen, (pop: 17 million) water tables are falling by roughy 2 meters/ year. In the basin where the capital, Sana'a, is, the water table is dropping 6 meters/ year, meaning the aquifer will be depleted by the end of the decade. Test drilling down to 2 km failed to find any more water (Christopher Ward, "Yemen's Water Crisis," based on a lecture to the British Yemeni Society, September 2000).
(Ground water Depletion) Yemen's water table is falling by 2 meters/ year and in Sana, the capital, by 6 m./ year (02E1).
(Ground water Depletion) In Yemen, the water table under most of the country is falling by roughly 2 meters/ year as water use far exceeds sustainable yields of aquifers. Groundwater is being mined at such a rate that parts of Yemen's rural economy could disappear within a generation. In the basin where Yemen's capital, Sana'a, is located and where the water table is falling 6 m./ year, the aquifer will be depleted by 2010. Yemeni's government has drilled test wells in the basin that are 2 km. deep, depths normally associated with the oil industry, but have failed to find water. Yemen must soon decide whether to bring water to Sana'a, possibly from coastal desalting plants, or to relocate the capital (02B1).
Yemen imports nearly 80% of its grain (02B1).
[B3l] ~ Water Use ~ Middle East ~ Qatar ~
In Qatar, it is estimated that aquifers will be depleted in 20-30 years at recent rates of ground-water withdrawal (96M2).
Qatar aquifers will be depleted in 20-30 years at recent rates of ground-water withdrawal (UNEP, State of the Environment: National Reports, 1987). (su4)
[B3m] ~ Water Use ~ Middle East ~ Pakistan ~
NOTE: Pakistan is also considered to be part of the Asian Sub-Continent elsewhere in this document.
Pakistan, (Population: 158 million people and growing by 3 million/ year,) is also mining its underground water. In the Pakistani part of the fertile Punjab plain, the drop in water tables appears to be similar to that in India (07B1).
Observation wells near Pakistan's twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi show a fall in the water table between 1982-2000 of 1-2 meters a year (07B1). (SU4)
In the Pakistan's province of Baluchistan, water tables around the capital, Quetta, are falling by 3.5 meters/ year. A water expert with World Wildlife Fund and a participant in a study of Pakistan's water situation, said in 2001 that "within 15 years Quetta will run out of water if the current consumption rate continues (07B1)." (SU4)
Pakistan, a country with 164 million people, is also mining its underground water. Observation wells near the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi in the fertile Punjab plain show a fall in the water table between 1982 and 2000 that ranges from 1 to nearly 2 meters a year (08B1).
In Pakistan's province of Balochistan (borders Afghanistan) water tables around the capital, Quetta, are falling by 3.5 meters / year. Throughout the Balochistan province, six basins have exhausted their groundwater supplies, leaving their irrigated lands barren. Sardar Riaz A. Khan, former director of Pakistan's Arid Zone Research Institute, expects that within 10-15 years virtually all basins outside the canal-irrigated areas will have depleted their groundwater supplies (08B1).
Part [B4] ~ Water Use ~ Southeast Asia ~
[B4a] ~ Water Use ~ Southeast Asia ~ Philippines ~
(Ground water Depletion) In Manila (Philippines) where groundwater levels have fallen 50-80 meters due to over-drafts, seawater has flowed as far as 5 km. into the Guadalupe aquifer that lies beneath Manila (00S1).
Ave. rainfall in the Philippines = 240-300 cm./ year. Ave. runoff = 323 km3 ( =110 cm.). Dependable surface water supply = 257 km3/ year (81G1). Water withdrawals (1975) = 30 km3, with 21 km3 used for irrigation (81G1).
[B4b] ~ Water Use ~ Southeast Asia ~ Thailand ~
(Supply/ Demand) Water demands in Thailand's Chao Phraya Basin exceed available supplies. Water supplies to Bangkok are not sufficient to alleviate severe over-pumping of ground water there (95P2) (99P1).
Bangkok Thailand reduced its water supply (producing periods of zero supply) to leave enough water in Chao Phraya River to flush seawater back into the Gulf of Thailand (94U1).
(Ground water Depletion) In Bangkok Thailand, local subsidence has reached 13 cm/ year due to excessive withdrawals of ground-water over the past 3 decades (Clyde Haberman, New York Times, 5/1/83) (See State of the World 1989, p. 72).
Thailand rainfall: 140-150 cm./ year (81G1). Thailand Average runoff = 200-220 km3 (81G1). (Another estimate by the UN in 1977 gave 110 km3/ year (81G1).)
Thailand's 1975 withdrawals for irrigation = 30 km3 (primarily surface water) (Refs. 9, 24, 10 of (81G1)). Even full control of the region's rivers would irrigate under 10% of the 35,000 km2 of paddy land (Refs. 24 and 62 of (81G1)).
Thailand's water storage in dams in the mid-1970s was 30 km3 (Ref. 62 of (81G1)).
Thailand's dependable ground-water potential is 30 km3/ year (Ref. 10 of (81G1)).
Water shortages were responsible for part of the 15% of the decline in Thailand harvested grain area during 1985-1995 (Ref. 36 of (96G2)). (su4)
[B4c] ~ Water Use ~ Southeast Asia ~ Malaysia ~
(Water Quality Issues) More than 40 of Malaysia's rivers are so fouled with municipal, industrial and agricultural wastes that they are biologically dead (98H1).
[B4d] ~ Water Use ~ Southeast Asia ~ Indonesia ~
Average rainfall in Indonesia is over 250 cm./ year (81G1).
Evapo-transpiration in Indonesia = 120-140 cm./ year (Refs. 24 and 11 of (81G1)).
Average runoff in Indonesia = 125 cm. = 2530 km3 (81G1).
(Ground water Depletion) In Jakarta (Indonesia), city dwellers extract groundwater at 3 times the rate of recharge, which has restricted water supplies to nearby rice farmers (Ref. 35 of (96G2)). (su4)
Part [B5] ~ Water Use ~ Europe ~
Spain has 950 desalination plants, and these produce 2 million m3 of water per day, enough for 10 million people. More plants are being built. In Spain, water is priced cheaper that in neighboring countries, and so there is large-scale water leakage of systems providing water to homes and businesses. In recent years a severe drought has reduced reservoirs contents by 50 to 80% of full capacity. Heavy fines are in place for wasteful uses of water (Graham Keely, "In Spain, a new phase in the "water war," China Dialog (6/13/08)).
About 60% of Spanish coastal aquifers are contaminated by seawater intrusion. (Freshwater contaminated by 5% seawater cannot be used for purposes such as human use, agriculture or farming.) (Science Daily, "Seawater Intrusion is often the Consequence of freshwater aquifer over-exploitation" (7/29/07)) (SU4)
Water use in Europe since 1950 is up 500% (Wall Street Journal (4/24/97)).
[B5a] ~ Water Use ~ Europe ~ Spain ~
(Ground water Depletion) In Spain, irrigation of fields on which wheat, maize and vegetables are grown has reduced groundwater levels by five meters (01U1). (su4)
The La Mancha aquifer in Spain is being consumed at 2-3 times its rate of recharge (01U1). (su4)
Part [B6] ~ Water Use ~ Russia and Central Asian Republics ~
In Central Asia, the Aral Sea, once the world's fourth-largest lake, is now down to 20% of its original volume (09H1). (Primary use: irrigating cotton)
In the Aral Sea basin in Central Asia, five countries share the Amu Darya River and the Syr Darya River. Both of these rivers drain into the sea. The total demand for water from these rivers in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan in 2007 exceeds the flow of the two rivers by 25%. Turkmenistan (upstream on the Amu Darya) is planning to develop another half-million ha of irrigated agriculture. Racked by insurgencies, Turkmenistan lacks the cooperation needed to manage its scarce water resources (08B2).
In Central Asia the Amu Darya (River) that, along with the Syr Darya (River), feeds the Aral Sea, is diverted to irrigate cotton fields of Central Asia. While recent efforts to revitalize the North Aral Sea have raised the water level somewhat, the South Aral Sea will likely never recover (07B1).
Asia has 60% of the world's population, but about 30% of its freshwater (07S3).
The Aral Sea in Russia was once the fourth largest inland sea in the world. Moscow's Shirshov Institute of Oceanology says the sea will dry up in 15 years due to the damning of the rivers that feed it - all to grow cotton in arid Soviet Central Asia. The sea is just a quarter of the size it was 50 years ago and has been split in two. Both halves suffer increased salinity that dry into huge salt plains that cause dust storms and spread disease and severely damage neighboring agriculture. Fishing has been wiped out, and agriculture is close to following it ("Russia's Aral Sea to Disappear Within 15 Years", News24.com (7/23/03). (su4)
Central Asia's Aral Sea may disappear by 2015. Four decades ago, 60 km3/ year of water flowed into the Aral Sea. Now only 1-5 km3/ year trickles through. If no measures to save the Aral are taken, its area will decrease to 9,000 square km (3,500 mi2) from today's 41,000 km2(16,000 mi2). Shrinking of the Aral Sea might lead to large-scale migration. Given today's population explosion in the region, people may be unable to feed themselves from the remaining allotments of (fertile) land. Uzbekistan (24 million people, population growth 2%/ year) shares the dying sea with Kazakhstan. At least 10 million people might be involved in chaotic migration early in the 21st century (98B2).
Amu Darya's and Syr Darya's flow into the Aral Sea in Asia has been reduced by 3/4 and has caused a catastrophic regression in sea levels - 53 feet during 1962-1994 (USA Today (11/29/99).)
Diversion of the Amu-Darya- and Syr-Darya Rivers from the Aral Sea (drying up most of the sea) went into unlined canals crossing desert regions. So 75% of the water seeped into the ground long before reaching the irrigated cotton fields (91F1).
The Amu Dar'ya and Syr Dar'ya rivers, prior to 1960, poured 55 km3/ year of water into Russia's Aral Sea. Between 1981-1990 this discharge dropped to 7 km3/ year (95P2).
River flow into the Aral Sea is plotted in Ref. (96P1). (55 km3/ year up to 1960, 5 km3 today) (96P1).
Russia's entire irrigation program is threatened because the southern half of Russia is running short of water (Ref. 30 of (78B2)).
Some 37 km3/ year of water are being withdrawn from the Aral Sea and surrounding ground water. Removable volume = 2500 km3 (94S1). The Amu Darya and Syr Darya Rivers once fed fresh water to the Aral Sea at 50 km3/ year. Irrigation diversions have reduced this input to 2-3 km3/ year, shrinking the Aral Sea from 64,500 km2 to under 30,000 km2 (95H1).
Some 12.4 km3/ year of water are being withdrawn from the Caspian Sea and surrounding groundwater. Removable reserves = 276,000 km3 (94S1).
Kyrgyz Republic ran its hydroelectric dam all winter to heat its cities, depriving Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan of most of their water needed for spring cotton planting (Wall Street Journal, 11/20/97).
Part [B7] ~ Water Use ~ Asia Generally ~
Dwindling groundwater supplies are threatening drinking water and crop production across Asia. Undeveloped arable land, meanwhile, is in short supply. As a result, Asian countries will have to import more food or improve irrigation methods, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and International Water Management Institute (IWMI) concluded in a report [PDF] released today. "Revitalizing Asia's Irrigation," IWMI (International Water Management Institute) http://www.iwmi.cigar.org/Publications/Other/PDF/Revitalizing%20Asia%27s%20Irrigation.pdf by Aditi Mukherji, Thierry Facon et al. (2009)
Asia's irrigation systems account for 70% of the world's total irrigated land. About 5 billion people are projected to live in Asia by 2050. With demand for meat products on the rise, experts estimate that the region must double its supplies of food and animal feed crops during the next 50 years to feed an additional 1.5 billion people. If population projections are borne out, food demands by 2050 would require South Asia to irrigate 30% more harvested land. These new farms would demand 57% more water unless water efficiency improves. In East Asia, farmers would need to increase the amount of irrigated farmland by 47%, at the cost of a 70% increase in water use, the above-mentioned study said. In Asia, particularly in South Asia (e.g. India), the area of land irrigated by large-scale surface irrigation has declined since the early 1990s due largely to poorly maintained infrastructure, the report said (09B1). Comments: "Surface irrigation" probably refers to irrigation systems that use surface water instead of groundwater irrigation.
Go to Top of this Chapter-Water Supplies for Irrigation
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INEFFICIENCIES IN THE U. S. HEALTH CARE SYSTEM ~
1 ~ Introduction ~
2 ~ Economic Fundamentals - Health Care and the Free Market ~
3 ~ Labor Intensiveness of the U. S. Health Care Industry ~
4 ~ Capital Utilization Efficiency of the U. S. Health Care Industry ~
(4-A) ~ Barriers to Increasing Capital Utilization Efficiency of Large-Scale Technologies ~
(4-B) ~ Achieving Increased Capital Utilization Efficiency of Large-Scale Technologies ~
(4-C) ~ Barriers to Increasing Capital Utilization Efficiency Generally ~
(4-D) ~ Achieving Increased Capital Utilization Efficiency Generally ~
(5-A) ~ Barriers to Containing Health Care Costs Resulting from Prescription Drug Pricing ~
(5-B) ~ The Current and Projected Magnitude of the Problem ~
(5-C) ~ Overcoming High and Growing Prices of Prescription Drugs ~
(5-D) ~ A Strategy for Prescription Drug Consumers to reduce their costs of Prescription Drugs ~
(6-A) ~ Barriers Provided by Questionable End-of-Life Health Care ~
(6-B) ~ Overcoming Questionable End-of-Life Health Care ~
(6-C) ~ The Exploding Costs of Alzheimer's Disease ~
Table 5-A ~ Average Annual Spending by Elderly Households on Prescription-Drugs by Income Quintiles ~
- Decreasing the direct labor component of health care via computerization of its massive, complex information flow/ analysis/ storage system,
- Increasing direct capital utilization efficiencies by reducing the influence of the less-than-objective economic analyses, and possibly the social values, that have produced huge and growing direct capital utilization inefficiencies,
- Reducing prescription drug prices by any of several systems of pricing that mimic free-market conditions - conditions that the present pricing system lacks, and
- Reducing government support for questionable end-of-life health care borne of less-than-objective medical, personal and religion-based analyses.
- Health-maintenance organizations (HMOs) are a large part of the total solution in an economic-fundamentals sense, although it is clear that HMOs have growing economic and practical problems, as will be seen below. **
- The health care industry's failure to computerize its massive, complex system of information flow/ analysis/ storage beyond mundane, isolated procedures is producing inefficiencies in the form of high and growing direct-labor costs (mid-2003 data).
- Over-investment in modern, high technology, large-scale diagnostic and treatment machinery -even things like hospitals and hospital beds -- are largely a result of non-objective economic analyses from a variety of sources. The resulting low direct-capital utilization efficiencies translate into high prices for patients.
- Large-scale fraud and abuse (about $100 billion/ year according to a 1994 U. S. Department of Justice statement to Congress, and doubtlessly far larger today) eat at the core of the Medicare- and Medicaid sectors of the health care industry, if not also at the HMO sector.
- Efforts to reign in Medicare- and Medicaid fraud and abuse have created vast bureaucracies that now exceed the size of the work force engaged in providing direct health care. Even then, only a small percentage of bills received by Medicare and Medicaid are ever checked. It has become far from clear that even this bureaucracy is up to its ever-growing tasks (according to a report of mid-2003).
- Efforts by HMOs to put constraints on medical procedures and medications (a result of their not providing health-care services in-house) have contributed to this same ever-expanding bureaucracy.
- Nearly two-thirds of all health-care dollars spent on each of us during our lifetimes is spent during the last six months of our lives - often on 11th hour heroics unsupported by objective medical analyses, and often of questionable value (mid-1990s data).
A New Problem - Rapid Growth in Prescription Drug Prices: The prescription drug industry gained the power to advertise its wares in the mass media in a 1997 FDA advisory. The implication is that doctors themselves are incapable of making informed decisions related to their prescription writing, so they need prodding from their better-informed (i.e. TV-watching) patients. The result -- prescription drugs are now the largest component of growth of US health care costs. It has also made the prescription drug industry the most profitable in the US. Despite the industry's admonition that the money is needed for research and development, marketing expenditures now exceed such R&D expenditures. National spending on prescription drugs has tripled since 1993. Pharmaceutical expenditures as a percentage of US health expenditures fell steadily from 10% to 4.9% during 1960-1980, but then they rose steadily to 9.4% in 2000 [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services]. The reason for the greater public outcry now is that, in 1960, total health-care costs were only a fraction of what they are today -- in both constant dollar terms and as a percent of GDP.
The Failure of Symptomatic Relief: Intense, intractable political debates over how best to deal with rising health care costs have been on-going for over a decade. The focus of these debates has been on stopgap measures to treat the symptoms of the problem, and on transferring financial burdens to other people's shoulders, without addressing fundamental issues. This is the perfect environment for assuring long-term failure to contain costs - at least until levels of public outrage increase significantly.
A Focus on Fundamental Problems: Recognizing the near-certain failure of symptomatic, stop-gap inefficient approaches to dealing with health care costs, this document takes a more fundamental approach. An effort is made to understand the fundamental problems of the US health care industry sufficiently well as to propose fundamental fixes that might reduce US health-care costs by on the order of 50% or more. With health-care costs rising at double-digit annual rates, little value is seen in seeking out nickel-and-dime solutions to the cost-containment problem. The industry has evolved into a highly labor- and capital-intensive industry, and this intensiveness grows at a healthy annual rate. So without examining these two basic economic issues it would be pointless to continue. Prescription drug prices and late-life health care also provide promising areas for seeking out large-scale reductions in health care costs, so all four of these key issues are taken up here. Two other major sources of spiraling health-care costs are large, growing, and self-perpetuating subsidies for health care, and the growing imposition of insurers between buyers and sellers of health care. These have been the main factors in raising prices of health care far above that which would have resulted in a purely free-market economy. However the political impossibilities of dealing with these two fundamental issues indicates that these are not potentially fruitful ways of seeking fundamental solutions. So instead, the nature and magnitude of these two problems are outlined in the following "economic fundamentals" portion of this document before examining the four more potentially fruitful approaches.
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Chapter 2 ~ ECONOMIC FUNDAMENTALS - HEALTH CARE AND THE FREE MARKET ~Long-standing economic dogma says that Adam Smith's concept of "free-market" pricing of goods and services maximizes "economic efficiency". This is broadly acknowledged to not be true if "non-internalized" externalities (e.g. government or public subsidies) are involved in decision-making by willing buyers or willing sellers in setting upon an arm's length agreed-upon price. All sorts of government subsidies help to pay US buyers' costs of health care. This results in prices paid for health care being far above the prices that would be paid in Adam Smith's hypothetical, efficiency-maximizing, free market. Increasing subsidies - the tendency of virtually all proposed state- and federal health-care legislation - tends to raise prices of health-care even farther above free-market prices and thus to be self-perpetuating and self-defeating. Significant and growing portions of government supports of health care therefore involve significant measures of counter-productivity - increased inefficiency - as ever increasing portions of these subsidies go to the industry instead of the intended beneficiary -- the patient. For historical perspective, in 1960, out-of-pocket payments covered 58% of all health care costs; government subsidies covered 21% of such costs, and health insurance covered the remaining 21%. In 1993, out-of-pocket payments covered only 21% of all health care costs; government subsidies covered 48% while health insurance covered the remaining 31% (Source Book of Health Insurance Data, 1993.) The subsidy-induced inefficiencies in health care systems are worse in other industrialized nations. Average public spending on health care in OECD countries is 72% of total health care spending (vs. 45% in the US) (04P1). In all OECD countries, health spending outpaces GDP growth (04P1). This puts ever-increasing pressure on government budgets. Ultimately it must force some painful reevaluations of basic policies -- and hopefully some careful analyses of health care system inefficiencies.
Abolishing subsidies for health care are considered to be political suicide, so this is not likely to be a fruitful way of approaching problems associated with funding US health-care. Other ways of reducing prices so as to also reduce or eliminate the "suicide" factor need to be examined. This is done below.
Health Insurance Effects: Other reasons cause prices of US health care to be well above prices that would exist in a free-market environment. The most important of these is the trend (see data above) toward increased imposition of health insurance between buyers and sellers of health care. This makes buyers far less unconcerned about prices of health care because they perceive the price to be paid by the insurer, not themselves. Thus they far more readily accept well-above-free-market prices offered by sellers. This is a gross miss-conception for buyers as a group, but is perhaps realistic for buyers as individuals. Some examples illuminate. At one point in the past, Blue Cross -Blue Shield did not cover the treatment of in-grow nails. The price charged then by doctors was about $7. This was a nearly perfect free-market, non-subsidized price reached by arm's length negotiations between willing buyers and willing sellers, both of the same, small, economic size (single individuals) with little likelihood of monopolistic pricing practices. Blue-Cross-Blue Shield later decided to insure the costs of medical treatment of in-grown nails. Within a few years the price paid by this insurer had risen by a factor of about ten. This is not to say that all health-care costs are now a factor of ten above free-market prices, but it is suggestive of the strong effect on free market economics of imposing insurers between buyers and sellers. Other examples of this can be seen in modern-day hospital charges -- $11 for a box of Kleenex, $2.75 for a throw-away plastic sleeve that covers a fever thermometer, $60 for a teddy bear (retail value: $10) for post-surgical patients, $5 for a magic marker to note the location of a surgical insertion, $1 for a Q-tip, $1.75 for a baby aspirin, $18 for a cheap plastic wash basin and pitcher, $56.70 for warming a surgical patient's blanket, $4.25 for a disposable razor, $8 for a bag of ice (2003 data). None of these charges would likely be acceptable to someone paying them out-of-pocket in transactions in a free market environment.
The economics of automotive collision insurance are also dominated by insurance. Repair prices can only be held in check by requiring buyers to obtain at least two bids before insurers will pay, and by pressuring car owners to go only to "approved" repair shops. A campaign by auto manufacturers persuaded many automobile owners to demand original manufacturers' parts. This merely imposed a greater element of monopolistic practices into the price setting process. The campaign succeeded because the automobile owner perceived the extra costs to be paid by the insurer. In a free market, insurance-free environment, repair shops would have offered car-owners two prices - one for original manufacturers' parts and another price for alternative manufacturers' parts. Clearly it becomes extremely difficult for a marketplace to achieve any semblance of efficient, free-market pricing when insurers are imposed in the process. It may be possible to avoid absurd pricing by attempting to mimic free-market conditions with frequently costly procedures. However the marketplace remains far from efficient and free, and prices are invariably above those that would be set in a free market. But once again, the thought of abolishing health insurance is unthinkable unless ways can be found of first reducing prices of health care dramatically. This is unlikely to ever be the case for major surgeries, even under the most ideal of conditions. HMOs are not as bad as other types of health insurance. This is because HMOs can also serve as de facto providers of health care. This is somewhat akin to auto repair shops offering collision repairs for an annual fee instead of on a per-situation basis, with the buyer being obliged to accept whatever the repair shop provides - or find another repair shop offering annual fees. Pricing far closer to free-market pricing can then be achieved because the seller and the insurer are essentially one in the same, and buyers have an incentive to shop around for the repair shop offering the best combination of annual fees and good repair work.
HMOs now commonly go to outside purveyors for medical services, and they (HMOs) use their large economic size (usually a nationwide scale with considerable monopolistic powers) to extract good prices from outside providers who are typically far smaller (usually local-scale) businesses. The modern-day tendency of hospitals to merge into ever-larger single business units is clearly an attempt to negotiate with HMOs on more of an equal-economic-size basis. Thus, although HMOs are fundamentally a step in the right direction, achieving prices as low as those that would be set in a free market remains an elusive goal. This is mainly because HMO strategies have degraded into a large component of monopoly-seeking instead of offering in-house services and quality service for low annual fees. HMOs are also resorting to (or being forced to) setting constraints on medical practices and medications in order to further reduce their costs. Such constraints may reflect very careful determinations of policies of lowest total cost. They may also be aimed at restraining doctors from going overboard in prescribing treatments that they have no alternative incentive to use restraint on. (Also doctors are often less that unbiased, since they may be part owners of CT scans, MRI systems, etc. that they can tell their patients to go to - usually with higher frequencies that when they are not "invested" in the medical decisions they make.)
Even if HMOs provided all medical services in-house they would still not achieve free-market pricing perfectly or be the optimal approach to health care. These would be achieved only if HMOs also took all the risks involved in their decisions. If they did that, they would set maximum lengths of hospital stays etc. at that length which minimizes their total costs. Set too short a stay and the risks of complications impose added financial risks that outweigh the economic benefits of short limits on hospital stays. However HMOs do not accept all the risks inherent in their decisions on medical practice policies. For example, if a very short hospital-stay limit causes the patient to die from complications, the costs of that death are not generally borne by the HMO. Efficiencies of HMOs could be improved somewhat if they also provided life insurance to all their patients as part of their overall offer. But this tends to be a minor problem relative to the tendency of HMOs to not offer all their medical services in-house - the main reason why HMO prices are as far as they are above free-market prices and why fundamental inefficiencies exist in the internal operations of HMOs (see below).
Looking Deeper: The above should be seen, however, as beating around the bush. Health-care subsidies will probably never be eliminated. Buyers and sellers of health care are always going to have some sort of insurer interposed between them - just the fundamental economic theory behind insurance assures this. And if insurance issues are diminished via HMOs, the above-mentioned inefficiencies of HMOs are not able to offer the possibility of health-care cost reductions of on the order of 50% or more. It is time to look even deeper into the fundamentals of the health-care industry to find large, permanent cost reductions. As noted above, the health-care industry is extremely labor-intensive and capital-intensive, so each of these factors needs to be scrutinized. There is really nowhere else to look - other than constraining very-late-in-life eleventh-hour-heroics modes of health care, and finding ways of bringing prescription drug prices down closer to their free-market values. Proposals dealing with labor- and capital intensiveness will have little credibility unless hurdles are identified that have, thus far, prevented the industry from achieving these efficiencies on its own. Proposals must also suggest how the hurdles identified might be overcome. These things are done below.
Cost Categorization: Costs incurred by an industry are often categorized most broadly as labor costs, capital costs and natural resource costs with the latter being generally negligible relative to the other two. Labor costs and capital costs tend to be proportioned about 60:40 for US industry as a whole. However the labor- and capital costs associated with supplies, heating, utilities, depreciation on capital facilities need to be broken out, since these costs probably have little to do with the soaring costs of health care and probably should be considered as fixed. Thus the total costs of health care should probably, for purposes of this analysis, be broken down into direct labor costs, direct capital costs, and indirect labor/ capital/ natural resource costs. This final category is very roughly estimated as 20% of the total mix, suggesting that this total mix should be apportioned as 48% direct labor costs, 32% direct capital costs, and 20% indirect labor/ capital/ natural resource costs. If better data on cost categorization become available, appropriate adjustments to this analysis are easily made. The first two categories will be the focus of this analysis, since the final category appears to have little to do with the issues at hand.
Costs can be usefully categorized in other ways. The list below tabulates some useful health care cost data.
- $1.55 trillion was spent on US health care in 2002 (04P1).
- Federal, state and local governments accounted for almost 50% of US health care spending in 2002 -- $713 billion (04M3).
- Out-of-pocket spending on health care was $205.5 billion in 2001 -- up 5.6%.
- Private insurance premiums were $496 billion in 2001 -- up 10.5%.
- Medicaid and state-financed children's health insurance programs covered 47 million Americans in 2003 (7 million more than Medicare does).
- Medicaid expenses were $224 billion in 1991 (The federal government paid 57%.) They were $242 billion in 2001 and $249 billion in 2002 (04M2).
- Medicare expenses were $267 billion in 2002 - up 8.4% (04M2).
- Hospital care spending in 2002 was $487 billion - up 9.5% over 2001 (04M2).
- Prescription drugs were 10% of health care spending in 2001 -- $140.6 billion (up 16% from 2000). (Prescription drug spending rose 15.3% in 2002 (04M2).)
- In 1970, spending per person on prescription drugs was about $115/ year (in 2000 dollars). In 2000 it exceeded $400/ year (02M1).
- Health care spending is expected to hit $3.1 trillion by 2012 (17.7% of GDP) from a February 2003 report by economists at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid] (04P1).
- Employers are paying 50% more in health care premiums in 2004 than in 2001 (04M2).
- A random survey of 2800 employers in 2003 found that employers spent $6,619 per year per family on health insurance premiums; the typical employee paid an added $2,412. Despite shifting costs to employees, employers' premiums rose 38% during 2001-2003 (04W1).
Percent of GDP
This issue is now covered in a separate document titled "Computerization of Information Flow/ Analysis/ Storage in the U.S. Health Care System: A Way of Achieving Large-Scale Cost Reductions and Increased Quality of Care" (06S1). This inefficiency is by far the most serious one within the health care industry.
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Chapter 4 ~ CAPITAL UTILIZATION EFFICIENCY IN THE U.S. HEALTH CARE INDUSTRY ~
Section (4-A) ~ Barriers to Increasing Capital Utilization Efficiency of Large-Scale Technologies ~The health care industry is being changed by large-scale, new technologies for diagnosing and treating health problems. These new technologies frequently cost millions of dollars per copy. There is a tendency for cities and hospitals of all sizes to want one of each -regardless of their ability to justify such technologies on a cost-effective basis. Economic concerns tend to be overruled by egos, politics and pressures from health-care professionals with financial investments in the technology. The less-than-dominant role of objectivity is perhaps due to inefficiencies in the health care system alluded to in the Introduction, and to the consequent dulled enthusiasm for patients to care about the actual costs of health care, given all those subsidies, interposed insurers, and growing hordes of HMO compliance checkers alluded to above - plus some similar problems outlined in Section 6 of this document. These same overruled-objectivity-related problems have also been found to be one of the reasons why the US also has too many hospitals and 40% too many beds (in 1996) (97L1).
Expensive technology is often used only a small fraction of the time due to the deficiency of need for a machine in a given local area. The "rental cost" of such machines (and the expensive buildings and land that they must typically occupy) on a per-patient basis thus becomes a large fraction of the total cost of the overall treatment. Could the use of any given machine be increased, rental costs per patient would fall - possibly enough to increase demand and produce even further reductions in machine rentals. For now, this will be taken as a definition of the main barriers to achievement of increased capital utilization efficiency of large-scale, high-technology and many other large-scale capital assets in the health care industry such as hospitals.
Section (4-B) ~ Achieving Increased Capital Utilization Efficiency of Large-Scale Technologies ~Systems and procedures are apparently being put into place to constrain ego-dominant-self-interest-based, non-objective decisions about how much large-scale new technology goes into a given locale. But it is not yet clear that such systems are a match for the new large-scale technology coming out constantly, or for the politics of health care, or for the tendency of influential health care industry officials to have financial investments in such machines and therefore to prescribe the use of the new technologies at levels beyond what prudence would dictate. HMOs could flex their monopoly powers and set rental rates they are willing to pay at values that cover the capital costs only if the machines are used for some significant fraction of the time. If usage were smaller, investors would have to be willing to swallow the non-compensated capital costs. If local systems and procedures for constraining ego-self-interest-dominant decisions on machine placement are not up to their task, state- or national-level systems and procedures should be developed to pursue the issues more forcefully.
Another approach would be the creation of larger (national level?) agencies to place constraints on investments in large direct capital health care facilities. Such constraints would take the form of requiring thorough, objective financial analyses of proposed developments. This would favor objective financial analysis replacing ego-, emotion-, and hidden-agenda-based analyses that are the current norm.
A far broader approach would involve tackling the issue of capital utilization efficiency economy-wide. Efforts should be undertaken to increase the role of job-sharing in the US economy in order to greatly increase the utilization efficiency of the huge and growing array of capital facilities in general throughout the US economy - even with allowing for reduced workweeks financed by improvements in capital utilization efficiency. This issue is covered in greater detail below.
Canada's use of high technology lies at the opposite end of the spectrum. Its capital investment in large-scale-high-technology, is at levels significantly less that those of the US. Hospitals, too, operate near full capacity. The result, at least for use of large-scale, high technology, is long waiting lines and delayed health care. But on the other hand, less money is wasted on unnecessary procedures, with systems for optimizing utilization efficiencies and assigning priorities - somewhat equivalent to rationing. One might expect consequences of health care delays, since early detection and treatment are known to reduce total health-care costs. Yet life expectancy in Canada is 79.4 years, vs. 76.8 years in the US. However this is partly explained by obesity being 15% among Canadians, vs. 32% in the US. On the other hand, tens of millions of Americans are uninsured - vs. none in Canada. Canadian health care spending is 9.7% of GDP, vs. 15% in the US (OECD data) (04P1) (See Table 2-A). Some middle ground between Canada and the US would probably be optimal in terms of the trade-offs between capital utilization efficiencies and other considerations (03C1).
Section (4-C) ~ Barriers to Increasing Capital Utilization Efficiency Generally ~Barriers to increasing capital utilization efficiency are not limited to large-scale, new, high technology. The health care industry also has huge and growing capital investments in more mundane facilities. If the labor intensiveness of health care could be significantly reduced as outlined above, then the size of these capital investments could be significantly reduced -e.g. billing departments and HMO compliance offices being replaced by a computer in far smaller quarters. But the potential exists to go much farther in increasing capital utilization efficiencies if societal and cultural values are examined and changed in response to the changing environment of large, and ever increasing, capital intensiveness of the modern industrial world generally. This smells of sacrifice, but an analysis of the broader issue of capital utilization efficiency in general done by this author some years ago (79S1) suggests that this is not the case. The costs of structural, societal changes required to increase capital utilization efficiency generally could, even two decades ago, be compensated for by financial benefits derived from such increased efficiencies. Increasing capital utilization efficiency also eliminates or reduces numerous other large, vexing, nationwide problems facing modern-day society. These benefits were far smaller when the modern world was far less capital intensive, but the truth and magnitude of the net benefits of increasing capital utilization efficiencies become greater and more apparent as capital intensiveness grows over time. This issue is summarized below, although a larger paper on the subject is available (79S1).
Section (4-D) ~ Achieving Increased Capital Utilization Efficiency Generally ~
If the US GDP is divided into returns on labor and on capital, the division is proportioned about 60:40. (Returns on natural resource sales are minor.) The long-term trend is in the direction of increasing the capital component of the GDP. This is largely how "labor productivity" and living standards increase. One might think then that capital utilization efficiency might be a matter of ever-increasing concern. But this has been the case only to a minimal extent, largely due to conflicts with social, and quality-of-life issues. The most obvious way of increasing capital utilization efficiency is to use capital facilities for a larger fraction of the time. In that way the total value of capital facilities can be reduced, and the costs of capital (interest, dividends, time-dependent (but not use-dependent) depreciation etc.) can be proportioned over a larger volume of output, thereby reducing total costs of goods and services. Capital facilities are usually in production mode for about 40 of the 168 hours in a week, providing at least the potential for a 4-fold increase in capital productivity. But this runs into cultural issues like the 40-hour workweek and the sanctity of weekends. Earlier in this century the workweek dropped steadily, but this trend has now stalled, or even backslid. This is probably out of concerns over the growing costs of inactivity that the resultant capital utilization efficiency decreases entail in capital-intensive economies. Also globalization pressures on labor have increased greatly.
The workweek/ weekend issue would be far less a hindrance to increases in capital utilization if job-sharing were more common. (It is now common in retail trades, some parts of the health-care industry and some others.) If the concept and practice of job-sharing could be developed more fully, the distinction between weekdays and weekends could largely vanish, and huge increases in capital utilization efficiency could be achieved without impinging on quality-of-life issues. In fact, the link between capital utilization efficiency and the length of the workweek could be broken. Capital utilization efficiency could increase even as the workweek decreases. Profits from increased capital utilization efficiency could more than make up for wage decreases implied by reduced workweeks. This was found to be the case in an earlier study by this author (79S1). Collateral benefits extend well beyond that however. Below is a list of a few of these.
- Rush-hour traffic problems would largely vanish;
- Once job-sharing processes were fully developed, more than two people could share one job, permitting people to eliminate the huge and every-growing cash-flow problem inherent in financing college educations by phasing gradually out of school and into the workplace.
- Transitions from the workplace into retirement could also become more gradual, greatly reducing the amount of accumulated cash required by retirement, while keeping minds and bodies active and productive for longer times. Problems with the Social Security system would largely vanish.
- Time pressures that people complain about with ever-increasing frequency -and their consequences such as various forms of "rage" -- could be greatly reduced.
- Costs of countless goods and services would drop due to capital utilization efficiency increases.
Overcoming the Barrier: A capital-utilization-efficiency crisis does not loom to the same degree as a health-care cost-containment crisis looms. So prospects for a national-level pursuit of increased capital utilization efficiency appear to be farther out on the horizon. Globalization could further increase the likelihood of such a crisis however as the US faces convergence of the developed- and developing world's economies (including wage scales). The US economy will then be desperately seeking out ways of becoming more competitive without seriously degrading wage scales (08S1). Increasing capital utilization efficiency would then be seen as one of the few options available.
Anticipated Cost Savings: Direct capital utilization efficiencies could be roughly doubled (though quadrupling is possible in theory). Assuming that direct capital costs comprise 32% of total health care costs, savings could amount to about 16% of total health care costs. The non-pharmaceutical component of the cost of US health care is about $1530 billion (2003 data) this would suggest health-care costs savings of about $245 billion per year. Some portions of hospitals operate on a 24-hour-per-day basis, so a correction would have to be made to account for this. If the issue were tackled economy-wide, revision of cultural values and customs could produce major increases in capital utilization efficiency generally. Collateral benefits could be achieved that are far greater than those to be anticipated from within the health care industry.
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Chapter 5 ~ RESTORING PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICES TO THEIR FREE MARKET VALUES ~
Section (5-A) ~ Barriers to Containing Health Costs Resulting from Prescription Drug Pricing ~Prices of prescription drugs are spiraling out of control. Prices are well beyond what would exist under free market conditions (See Section 2 above: "Economic Fundamentals".) No other category of health care costs grows as rapidly, although prescription drugs make up only about 10% of spending on US health care - about the same percent as in 1960, but double the 1980 percentage from a report by economists at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid. The main causes of this appear to be:
- Huge subsidies for prescription drug consumption that dull consumers' interest in price-oriented decision-making that would normally exist under free-market conditions.
- Large-scale imposition of insurers between consumers and sellers of prescription drugs, again dulling consumers' interest in price-oriented decision-making that would normally exist under free-market conditions.
- Relatively new freedoms allowing prescription drug companies to advertise their wares in the mass media, even though prescribing such drugs ought to be solely the duty of doctors (a result of 1997 FDA guidelines).
- Development, in recent years, of huge drug industry sales staffs who visit doctors in the privacy of doctors' offices, degrading the quality of information used in doctors' prescription-making and subjecting the process to less-than-objective pressures.
- Erroneous perceptions that prescription drug prices are at "free-market" values, and hence are optimal in terms of "economic efficiency", and therefore should not be tinkered with.
- The prescription drug industry's movement out from the normal research/ development/ manufacturing/ image-oriented-marketing mode of operation to aggressive, self-serving influencing of FDA decision-making, backed by legislature pressures that have been influenced by tens of millions of dollars of drug industry campaign contributions over the past decade.
- The Congressional Budget Office (02C1) estimates that drug costs have increased by 19.1%/ year over the past eight years. The CBO projects a 10.1%/ year increase over the coming decade out to 2013.
- For the elderly in the lowest income quintile, projected increase in drug expenditures will be 24.9 percentage points (on after-tax income) during 2000-13, 17.9 for the second-lowest income quintile, 11.6 for the middle quintile and 5.4 for the top quintile. Any government subsidy program that held the share of drug expenditures at 2000 levels for all elderly households would cost 0.75% of GDP by 2013. But increasing subsidies increases prices still farther above their free-market values (see Section 2), meaning that an increasing fraction of these subsidies goes to the drug industry instead of the elderly. So the 0.75% figure is probably much too low.
- The CBO estimates that the elderly currently spend about $100 billion per year on prescription drugs not covered under the traditional Medicare program. It projects that this will rise to $278 billion by 2013 (1.6% of GDP).
- More than 70% of drug expenditures are covered by the elderly themselves, either directly out-of-pocket or indirectly via private insurance. (Medicare HMOs, Medicaid, state-based programs and the Veterans Administration cover the rest.)
- 26% of drug expenditures by the elderly are paid by employer-sponsored insurance, mainly through plans that maintain insurance for retirees. But these plans are shrinking rapidly, meaning that ever-increasing percentages of prescription drug prices will be paid directly by the elderly. The US Department of Labor reported in 2003 that private-sector workers receiving employer-bases health insurance dropped to 45% in March of 2003, vs. 63% a decade earlier.
Table 5-A ~ Average Annual Spending by Elderly Households on Prescription Drugs by Income Quintile ~
Overcoming Barriers ~ One Possible Proxy for a Free Market: Creating a reasonable proxy for a free market in prescription drugs is difficult. Creating "public utility commissions" similar to those in the utilities industry is easily seen to be unworkable, given the far greater complexity and variety of prescription drug industry products. One possible approach to a free-market proxy is the following. If a free market in prescription drugs did exist, returns on investment of the industry as a whole, would likely be near the upper end of the spectrum of returns on investment of US industry in general, due to the inherent higher-than-normal risks involved in research on, and development of, new drugs. Being at, say, the 85th percentile of the spectrum of returns on investments characterizing US industry would probably seem reasonable to most. (Presently returns on investment of prescription drug companies are the highest in the US - about 18% vs. 3% for US business and industry as a whole.) So one possible proxy could be to, in consultation with the drug industry, pressuring the industry to price drugs at levels that produces that same end result - not for each company or each drug, but for the industry as a whole.
One mechanism by which this might be accomplished is to use the bargaining power that Medicare and Medicaid have, derive from their large size, to influence prescription drug pricing. These agencies could possibly meet the above-mentioned "85th percentile" constraint. Given the growing public anger about drug prices, and the risk that this could boil over into outright price controls on drugs (03M1), the industry might welcome a process guided by free-market-proxy constraints in order to avoid less constrained processes born out of less-than-objective anger. This mechanism offers collateral benefits.
- Medicare/ Medicaid could use data on research and development costs and the relative risks undertaken by each drug company in their research policies and decisions in determining how a given drug price ought to be influenced.
- They could also use marketing cost data, and discount such costs heavily, reflecting the negative influences that modern-day drug marketing impose on doctors' prescription-issuing.
- Medicare/ Medicaid would have a strong influence on prices for new drugs scarcely better than the corresponding generic, but have a weak influence on prices for major medical advances.
The obvious rejoinder to the above free-market proxy proposal is that all this borders on price controls and "price controls never work". But this free-market proxy could work, since drug consumers are unlikely to see any reason to seek out "black markets" for prescription drugs - one reason why price controls never work. There are no reasons why drug companies should limit production to create artificial shortages. Such shortages would do them no good. They would continue to have substantial incentives to invest in research, development and manufacturing - incentives far closer to the incentives that would exist under free market conditions - conditions most economists contend to be "optimal" in terms of economic efficiency. There would be the risk that drug companies could try to bury profits in high salaries for corporate officials. But these are sufficiently well known that such efforts would likely draw adverse reactions from Medicare and Medicaid. The industry could also be less cautious in choices of potential new drugs to research and development - bigger capital investments, bigger profits. But to do this they would need to raise capital. Stockholders would see little or no benefit from such practices, and constrain management policy decisions.
Another Proxy for a Free Market - Direct Price Controls: The Japanese have apparently concluded that competition is not realistically possible in the health care industry and have therefore instituted something on the order of a public-utility-commission approach to health-care services. E.g. doctors must charge for services according to rates published in government manuals. Pure price controls have been disastrous in some nations of the former communist block, when prices were arbitrarily set so low that they barely paid for the gas when doctors made (mandatory) house calls. However such policies were clearly not even remotely guided by intents to create a proxy for a free market and to seek drug prices comparable to those that would characterize a free market. Every other industrialized nation has some form of price controls that limit the ability of drug companies to exploit their monopoly (patent) position (03P1). This is almost certainly a significant reason why U.S. consumers pay far more for prescription drugs than do consumers in any other advanced economy (03B1).
Overcoming Barriers Using An Expanded Role for Non-pharmaceutical Company Research: Non-pharmaceutical company research already accounts for just under half of all drug research in the U.S. The National Institutes of Health, other government agencies, foundations, universities and private charities support this research. Existing pharmaceutical companies do some of the research under contract. The question of how drug research is done is important. The costs of materials and manufacturing of drugs, like computer software, tend to represent a small fraction of the prices paid by consumers. Drug prices originate, to a large degree, in the costs of research, development, testing and marketing. A proposal has been made to expand the research component of overall drug research (02B1) to essentially the entire drug research effort in the US. Research results would all enter the public domain. Pharmaceutical companies would then use these research findings in much the same way as generic drug companies do now, i.e. without patent protection. The proposal estimates that such a system could easily reduce overall private spending on drugs by about $200 billion/ year (1.1% of GDP) by 2013. The cost of additional government research expenditures would be almost completely offset by cost-savings on existing government health care programs. Collateral benefits would include reduced mass-marketing expenditures, fewer falsified or misleading research results, less "copycat" research, greater objectivity in doctors' prescription writing and less interference by the drug industry on FDA decision-making (See below).
Other Barrier-Overcoming Options - Limiting Mass-Media Marketing of Prescription Drugs:Despite the fact that the prescribing of prescription drugs is supposedly the exclusive domain of medical doctors, the prescription drug industry spends billions of dollars annually (since the FDA's 1997 guidelines) in mass-media marketing - all aimed at encouraging ill-informed consumers to influence such decisions. In 2003 the pharmaceutical industry spent nearly $3 billion on direct-to-consumer advertising, up from less than 0.8 billion in 1997 (04L1). Industry people argue (01M1) "one of the primary economic principles underlying all advertising is the value of information". This sounds good, but closer examination suggests otherwise. What information is added to doctors' inventory of information used in issuing prescriptions, and what is the quality of that information relative to information from normal sources such as the FDA? Frequently, mass-media ads do not even tell the consumer what purpose the drug is supposed to serve -consumers are just urged to harass their doctor with questions like "Is Drug X right for me?" A typical mass-media drug ad ends with vague, glib admonitions about side effects. FDA releases on side effects are almost certainly far more detailed, accurate, and of such quality as to contribute significantly to prescription decisions. Mass-media side-effect lists add nothing, other than dilution and distortion. The remainder of mass-marketing ads tends to be fuzzy images of emotionally appealing scenes largely irrelevant to prescription-issuing decisions. The end results are: (1) essentially zero additional information that might add to the average doctor's inventory, (2) a degradation in overall quality of that information pool, and (3) irrational pressures on doctors to subvert their otherwise rational decisions to the satisfying of irrational, ill-informed patient pressures.
Is the Prescription Drug Industry a Net-Negative Influence on Government, the FDA and the Health Care Profession? If this were the case, other ways might be sought out to limit the industry's role to that which it took in the past -- research, development, manufacture and image-related mass-marketing - when prescription drug prices were not a major issue. Returning to such a mode of operations could greatly reduce the industry's costs and enhance the overall quality of prescription decision-making by making decision-making by the FDA and doctors more objective and more likely to consider alternatives to drugs. A November 2003 FrontLine documentary, among numerous other analyses, offers ample evidence of the negative influences of the prescription drug industry on these decision-making processes. Below are some examples.
(1) The prescription drug industry actively pursues legal loopholes (trickery?) to extend patent lives on prescription drugs far beyond the normal legal limit, and beyond the spirit and intent of the US Constitution to limit the duration of patent. This cannot help but increase prescription drug prices.
(2) Prescription drug companies lobby Congress to press for increasingly stringent limits on the time it takes for the FDA to make decisions on new prescription drugs. This might have some justification if the FDA had some innate inability to objectively weigh the costs and benefits of shorter approval times. But it is hard to explain why the FDA should lack objectivity in this area. On the other hand it is easy to explain why the drug industry should be less than objective. The result of this added haste is, too often, bad or worthless drugs being placed on the marketplace, public health problems, and lawsuits (which increase drug prices).
(3) The prescription drug industry lays a heavy hand on FDA deliberations over drug safety and efficacy (See the FrontLine Nov./2003 documentary) For example, the drug industry may often have some hours to present its case in hearings, while scientists with well-researched reservations may be limited to five minutes. In addition, such scientists often get their professional wings clipped by their superiors, limiting their effectiveness and objectivity even further. The result, again, is bad and ineffective drugs being introduced to the marketplace, public health problems and lawsuits. One example: Fen Phen, a diet drug with dangerous side effects. Industry gained approval by promising to sell only to clinically obese people (those at risk of death due to obesity). Then they marketed the drug as a cure-all for anyone with even minor weight problems. Some top-grossing drugs - like Celebrex and Vioxx - are often no more effective than low-cost generics. Economist Alain Enthoven, who has spent three decades advocating measures to inject real competition into health care notes that expensive new drugs should be tested against the best available generics. Instead, they are tested only against placebos (03M1). According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), more than 70% of the new drugs approved in the last decade do not constitute qualitative improvements over existing treatments (01F1).
(6) The drug industry employs huge cadres of highly paid sales people to visit doctors' offices in person to discuss new drugs (e.g. the town of Colorado Springs Colorado has over 70 such people). It seems unlikely that such visits focus on going over recent FDA technical releases on the workings, efficacy and side effects of new drug. More likely the focus is on spin control facilitated by the privacy of doctors' offices.
The Prescription Drug Industry and the Free Market - The Crux of the Debate: The prescription drug market is not even remotely a free market, being heavily influenced by subsidies and health insurance (See Section 2 above). The main result is prices far above what would occur in a free market. Essentially the prescription drug industry has become the recipient of a large share of the subsidies and insurance benefits that were intended for patients - not highly profitable drug companies. Yet the drug industry insists, outright or implicitly, that anything that might reduce drug prices intrudes on free market functioning and therefore degrades the economic efficiencies of the illusory free market in prescription drugs. Were industry views to be more self-consistent, and their respect for free market economics and its efficiencies more sincere, the industry would argue for some rational system (proxy) to lower prices closer to those that a free market would settle on.
One example of the use and abuse of free market concepts in the debate over drug prices is seen in a Pfizer document (02M1). It enumerates how prescription drugs have contributed to reductions in health care costs for numerous diseases. Implied then is the contention that it is perfectly reasonable to charge ever high prices for drugs as the industry's rightful share of these benefits. Lacking are arguments that, if the industry operated in its former mode of research/ development/ and manufacturing (when drug prices were far lower), such health-care benefits would not have been forthcoming. Also lacking is a clear vision of the functioning of a free market. In such a market, as soon as prices rose to values that provided competitive returns on the drug industry's capital investments, competition would develop and limit future prices to those that provide competitive returns on investment. It is only the lack of a free market that could give the industry the far larger shares of the economic benefits that prescription drugs now provide. The Pfizer document also suggests that a human life may be worth $500,000 per year as a means of justifying ever-high drug prices. It is far from clear that a price of this magnitude is the average that a willing buyer (patient) and a willing seller (drug industry) would settle upon in arm's-length negotiations in a free marketplace.
Conclusions: The prescription drug industry clearly has serious and growing problems with objectivity - problems it largely lacked when it operated primarily on a research/ development/ manufacturing mode. This lack of objectivity is costing consumers huge amounts of money and causing them perhaps even greater costs in terms of reduced quality of health care. It would seem then, that limiting the drug industry's role in health care to research, development and manufacturing couldn't help but be beneficial in terms of cost reductions and enhanced health care. It once was that way - it should not be all that hard to return to a system that once worked so well. All that is required is improved FDA guidelines, constrained less by campaign-contribution-influenced legislative meddling in the FDA's operations, to return to previous limits on drug industry use of the mass media. Eliminating public misconceptions about the free market nature of prescription drug markets would help to bring this about. The prescription drug industry has been overplaying its hand in all aspects of the drug marketplace decision-making process. This only hastens the day when Congress has to choose between raising taxes, cutting back on drug benefits for seniors, or hammering drug companies. The choice will then be obvious, and no amount of political power is likely to stand in the way (03M1). Developing free-market proxies could be the best strategy for both sellers and buyers of prescription drugs.
Anticipated Cost Savings: Prescription drugs represent about 10% of total US health care costs. Prescription drug prices are well above their free-market values. Based on the huge rate of price increases over the past decade, it seems clear that prices exceed their free market values by at least 100%. Finding some proxy for a free market would thus save about 5% to total US health care costs. Given a 2003 cost of $1700 billion, this suggests a savings of $85 billion per year.
Section (5-D) ~ A Strategy for Prescription Drug Consumers to reduce their costs of Prescription Drugs: ~ Many people have heard of people traveling to Canada to save money on prescription drugs. What these people do not know is that they can order prescription drugs from Canada over the Internet. They simply ask their doctor to fax his prescription to a Canadian company. Perhaps the best (and largest) Canadian source is Pharmawest Pharmacy. You can check their prices on their website http://www.northwestpharmacy.com Their toll free fax number for the doctor to use in faxing prescriptions is 1-866-539-5311. Drugs are usually shipped with no shipping costs to the customer. The cost of drugs is typically half of what one would pay in the US. If you are on Medicare “D” you should examine the price you are paying for drugs plus the cost of Medicare “D” insurance and consider the benefits of dropping Medicare “D” insurance (typically about $500/ year and climbing rapidly) and if you fall into the “Donut Hole” it will cost much more.
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Chapter 6 ~ END-OF-LIFE HEALTH CARE ~
Section (6-A) ~ Barriers Provided by Questionable End-of-Life Health Care ~!Nearly two-thirds of all health-care dollars spent on us during our lifetimes is spent during the last six months of our lives (mid-1990s data). Much of this "health care" falls into the category of 11th hour heroics poorly supported by objective medical judgment and highly questionable. As a result, much of last few weeks or months of life are too often spent in pain staring at a hospital room ceiling while under heavy sedation and largely immobile in non-familiar, less-than meaningful surroundings. Much of this care is probably not based upon objective analyses of patient welfare, or of the quality of life in its final hours. Nor is it based on the patient's wishes. Studies have shown that most people, when dying, want the comfort and care of being surrounded by family, not the torture of all sorts of tubes in every possible orifice (03L1). Instead, this care appears to be based more upon:
- Doctors' desire for business or
- Family members' feelings of guilt that drive them to do "everything possible" or
- Fundamentalist religious beliefs in the "sanctity" of human life irrespective of the human condition or the wishes of the patient.
The state of Oregon, in the early 1990s, raised the issue of rationing health care dollars in an attempt to address this sort of seeming waste of taxpayers' funds allocated to health care. Oregon's rules dealt hardly at all with late-in-life care issues, but more on providing health care to the poor and to children at the expense of those who are childless and single. Thus it seems fair to conclude that these rules were poorly conceived in terms of allocating health care dollars efficiently or even-handedly. However they did shed much public discourse on the broader issue of health care rationing and priorities. This improves the prospects of addressing late-in-life care issues in the future. Elsewhere, policies are being developed and invoked permitting withdrawal of life-support when a person is pronounced "brain-dead", even though the heart is still functioning. This has produced intense controversy at times when there are still living cells at the stem of the brain, resulting in the patient moving fingers or opening an eye on occasion.
Change in Number of Deaths between 2000 and 2008 for various diseases:
Breast Cancer –3%
Prostate Cancer --8%
Heart Disease –13%
Alzheimer’s Disease +66%
Sooner or later Americans are going to get desperate enough to consider final stage Alzheimer’s disease (essentially a vegetative state) equivalent to being brain-dead and treat it as such.
NOTE: Savings in late-life care overlap savings in direct labor costs, direct capital costs, and prescription drug production costs and prices enumerated above. So simply adding all anticipated savings listed above would exaggerate anticipated savings in US health care costs.
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~ REFERENCE LIST ~
(79S1) Bruce Sundquist. 1979. "Capital Utilization Efficiency Vs. Leisure: An Accommodation", Finalist paper in the Mitchell Energy Foundation's international competition for economics papers on "The Management of Sustainable Growth" presented at the Third Biennial Woodlands Conference on Growth Policy, (Oct. 28-31, 1979).
(97L1) Lucette Lagnado. 1997. Wall Street Journal (1/13/97).
(99R1) Uwe Reinhardt. 1999. Wall Street Journal (11/17/99).
(01F1) U.S. FDA. 2001. "NDAs Approved in Calendar Years 1990-2001 by Therapeutic Potentials and Chemical Types", Dec. 31, 2001. http://www.fda.gov/cder/rdmt/pstable.htm.
(01M1) Richard Manning and Alison Keith. 2001. "The Economics of Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Prescription Drugs", Economic Realities in Health Care Policies, 2(1) (June, 2001) 20 pp. www.pfizer.com/download/about_ERhealthcare.pdf
(02B1) Dean Baker, T. K. Chatani. 2002. "Promoting Good Ideas on Drugs: Are Patents the Best Way? The Relative Efficiency of Patent and Public Support for Biomedical Research," Washington DC, Center for Economic and Policy Research, <http:www.cepr.net/promoting_good_ideas_on_drugs.htm>.
(02C1) Congressional Budget Office. 2002. "Testimony on Projections of Medicare and Prescription Drug Sending", (March 2002) Testimony before the Committee on Finance, U.S. Senate, Congressional Budget Office. http://www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=3304&sequence=0>.
(02H1) HCFA (Health Care Financing Administration). 2002. National Health Care Expenditures: Available at http://wwwhcfa.gov/stats/nhe-oact/.
(02M1) Neal A. Masia. 2002. "Pharmaceutical Innovation: Lowering the Price of Good Health", Economic Realities in Health Care Policy, 2(2) (April 2002) 20 pp. www.pfizer.com/download/about_er22.pdf.)
(03B1) Dean Baker, John Schmitt. 2003. "Growing Pains: The Expense of Drugs for the Elderly", Center for Economic and Policy Research, (February 10, 2003), 13 pp. http://www.cepr.net/Issue_Brief_Growing_Pains.pdf.
(03C1) Elena Cherney. 2003. "Universal Care Has a Big Price: Patients Wait", Wall Street Journal (11/12/03.).
(03L1) Laura Landro. 2003. "Six Prescriptions to Ease Rationing in US Health Care", Wall Street Journal (12/22/03).
(03M1) Alan Murray. 2003. "Drug Makers Hand Democrats a Target on Prescription Bill", Wall Street Journal (11/25/03)
(04L1) Laura Landro. 2004. "Net Benefits", Wall Street Journal, 1/26/04.
(04M1) Alan Murray, 2004, "Trade Group's Fight Against Drug Review is Self-Defeating," Wall Street Journal (11/30/04) p. A4.
(04M2) Sara Schaefer Munoz. 2004. "US Health Care Spending Rose 9.3% in 2002", Wall Street Journal, 1/9/04.
(04M3) Laurie McGinley. 2004. "State and Local Programs Seek to Aid Uninsured", Wall Street Journal, 1/9/04 (reporting on a Health/ Human Services report in the journal Health Affairs on 1/8/04).
(04P1) Robert Pear. 2004. "Health Spending takes 15% of GDP", New York Times (1/9/04) (reporting on a Department of Health and Human Services report published in the journal Health Affairs on 1/8/04).
(04R1) Rhonda L. Rundle. 2004. "WellPoint to Pay $30 Million for Doctors' Computers", Wall Street Journal, 1/15/04.
(04U1) Unknown. 2004. "Lawsuit Challenges Charity Hospitals on Care for Uninsured", Wall Street Journal (6/17/04) p. B1.
(04W1) David Wessel. 2004. "Health-Care Costs Blamed for Hiring Gap", Wall Street Journal (3/11/04).
(04W2) Jeanne Whalen. 2004. "Russia's Health Care is Crumbling", Wall Street Journal (2/13/04).
(06S1) Bruce Sundquist. 2006. "Large-Scale Computerization - The Cure for the Health Care Crisis" Edition 4 (May 2006) on http://home.windstream.net/bsundquist1/hci.html
(07T1) Clarence Thomas, 2007. "Everybody dies," Pittsburgh Post Gazette (1/24/07) p. B7.
(08S1) Bruce Sundquist. 2008. "Globalization: The Convergence Issue", Edition 16, April 2008, 80 pp. on http://home.windstream.net/bsundquist1/gci.html
(09R1) Roni Caryn Rabin, 2009 "Religious patients often seek aggressive care at life's end," Pittsburgh Post Gazette (3/18/09) p.A2.
(11B1) David Brooks, "The debt crisis is mostly about death." Pittsburgh Post Gazette (7/17/11)
- The degradation, loss and lack of output sustainabilities of the Earth's key land-based- and marine-based life-support systems;
- Population-related issues that help to define the changing magnitude and character of the demands human impose on these key life-support systems;
- Globalization-related issues -- basic economic issues that are significantly affected by the other two topics, especially in a highly bipolar world of exploding mobilities of virtually all components of economic activity and human culture. It turns out that the current "Great Recession" is linked strongly to globalization and how both developed nations and developing nations manage their globalization processes. So you will note several documents that examine this link in detail.
- An efficient, low-cost, politically viable process for eliminating global warming. (See "Terra Preta . . .")
- A process for bringing the fertilities of tropical soils up to those of temperate soils. (See "Terra Preta . . .")
- Several long-term strategies for ending the global food crisis - a crisis that is shown here to have a high probability of lasting essentially forever if nothing is done about it. (See "The Food Crisis - Some Solutions.....")
- Four low-cost, relatively safe means of enabling the poorest of developing world women to control the number of children she has. (See "Quinacrine Sterilization . . . Section [D-2])
- A low-cost solution to the US health-care crisis within the constraint of maintaining, or increasing, the quality of care. (See "Large-Scale Computerization - The Cure for the Health-Care Crisis") That crisis is mainly a consequence of the inevitable problems that any economic system encounters when an insurance policy is interposed between the buyer and seller of any good or service. (See "Inefficiencies in the U.S. Health Care System - Identifying and Fixing Them")
- A strategy for significantly reducing the scale and frequency of armed conflict, and accomplishing this in a cost-effective manner. (See Sections (4-C) through (5-E) of "Could Family Planning Cure Terrorism?")
- An efficient process for greatly reducing, if not eliminating, the AIDS/ HIV pandemic, and doing so within the financial resources available for this task. (See "Strategies for Funding Family Planning . . ."
- The elements of a fairly simple, relatively painless strategy for ending the Great Recession - a recession that is likely to last forever, and that will probably worsening over time. (See Section 10 of "Why the Great Recession could last forever.")
- A compilation of data and analyses that shows, quite convincingly, that global supplies of undeveloped, arable land are negligible for all intents and purposes. (See "Sustainability of the World's Outputs of . . . ." Chapter 1, Section D)
- A compilation of the causes and effects (short-term and long-term) of what is probably the largest human migration in human history - the rural-to-urban migration in the developing world. (See "The Informal Economy of the Developing World . . .")
- The link between the Great Recession and the globalization process (as it is managed in the US) is examined in detail. A compelling argument is developed contending that an extremely tight cause-and-effect link between these two phenomena exists. (See "The Link between Globalization and the Recession . . ." and "Why the Great Recession could last Forever")