U.S. Water News Online
STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- Experts at an international water
conference warned that demand from a fast growing world population
was reducing rivers to a trickle and threatening agriculture.
``Water scarcity is probably the most underestimated emerging
issue today,'' Worldwatch Institute President Lester Brown told more
than 800 delegates in his opening address at the 10th annual
Stockholm Water Symposium.
Brown called for a push in water conservation efforts comparable
to land conservation efforts earlier this century.
``Water has been an abundant resources and an essentially free
resource so we take it for granted,'' he said. ``We now know we can't
do that anymore.''
The head of the Washington-based research group pointed to aquifer
depletion and drained rivers as the main problems facing future
generations and said the world could not afford to ignore the
He cited the Colorado River in the United States, the Nile River
in Africa, and the Ganges River in South Asia as among those that
often run dry before they reach the sea.
He also warned of political instability, saying minor rioting had
broken out in China when the government tried to fix leakage in a dam
along the Yellow River to channel the water to the interior. The
leakage was being used by farmers in the east coast province of
``It's a case study in the competition that develops when water
runs low,'' Brown said.
Speakers at the weeklong conference, organized by the Stockholm
International Water Institute, also said more water was being wasted
on inefficient methods of growing feed grain -- with 70 percent of
water worldwide going toward irrigation.
Suggestions varied from the simplistic, such as greater use of
low-pressure sprinklers, to wholesale change of a society's eating
habits. One proposal called for reducing irrigation-intensive crops
like grains by encouraging people to eat poultry and fish, which
consume less grain than pork and beef.
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