Well, well. It has come much earlier than I thought it would.
We have been talking about the imminent water wars for a couple of years now in my household and beyond. Coming from drought-flood-drought Australia, I have always been super aware of water usage and even set up water collection tanks on my urban property because the town’s reticulated supply often ran low and I like gardens. Having also lived on rural properties, water storage is essential for stock, gardens and household use anyway, so I was always used to it.
Understandably then, here in Scotland, I am horrified by what I see as the profligate waste of water. Often I am told that in Scotland there is so much water that it doesn’t matter and I can just relax.
Grumpily I retort that when the water wars start, expect Scottish Water to sell the excess to the highest bidder. I tend to think globally these days not nationally.
Today’s headline in The Independent reads Scotland offers to sell its water.
England is starting to suffer droughts and climate change consequences and hasn’t the same storage capacity that hilly Scotland has. Scottish Water started to offer water to England in March.
It would be expensive and a logistical nightmare and the offer may not be ‘commercially viable’ at this stage. There will come a time when the cost won’t be a consideration. Without water, we can’t live. It really is that simple.
Oil tankers may end up refitted as water tankers and ply the seas delivering Scottish water to places that need it. It is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility. It is also probable that residential houses will be required to store and conserve their water use. Someone told me he finds it obscene that drinking water from a tap is used to water gardens. Good point.
All ratios of fresh to salt water on this planet are approximations however the figures seem to hover around 2.1% locked in icecaps, 97% as salty oceans and the difference found in groundwater, freshwater lakes, rivers and streams. Not much in the atmosphere.
The water cycle is a closed system and how we manage it is becoming extremely important. Put simply, water demand is growing while water supply, due to contamination and pollution, is decreasing.
Water travelling to the sea takes all manner of salts with it. This goes some way to polluting the sea water, the effects of which we can see and measure.
Ancient groundwater is being used in countries like Australia at a faster rate than it can be replenished. And, global population keeps increasing, so does land being used to feed us. To speed the agricultural cycles, we are using more fertilisers, pesticides, weedicides – all the excess from these uses is contaminating and polluting the run off to the sea. Then we have nutrient problems in the sea with its effect on all sea life.
So I can’t just be complacent because I now reside in Scotland. The variability of availability of water for human use is an increasing problem and one we will all have to face eventually.
- Scottish News: Scottish Government to discuss supplying water to parts of England hit by shortages (dailyrecord.co.uk)
- Scottish Water forms deal with Poland (edinburghnapiernews.com)
- Big Uncertainties in the Global Water Budget (terradaily.com)