If water is one of the resources which will determine the future of the earth and communities living on it, there are five imperatives that we must observe.
The first is to collect water better. We are given abundant amounts of it but should not allow it to flow away. We should bear in mind the example of the gaviotas pines, for which biodiversity is used as a great water collector, or the Mexican system of small steps and dams to collect water and replenish aquifers. Before asking where we can drill to find water, we must learn to collect it in a more intelligent way.
The second imperative is to reduce our requirements. The largest consumer of water in the world is agriculture, particularly industrial agriculture using irrigation, which consumes 70 percent of the total: for example, 16 000 liters of water are required to produce 1 kg of beef.
The third imperative: eliminate unequal consumption. In many situations where there are water shortages, swimming pools are frequently full while a short distance away there are people who are thirsty. Water shortages may in some cases be a natural phenomenon, but it is more usually a question of social inequality, with some social classes able to secure a significant amount and use it in extravagant fashion.
Some of the most symbolic cases are where there are large dams used to collect and channel the water away from the local inhabitants for use by cities and industry. Unequal use of water creates scarcity and rivalry . For this reason it is essential to eliminate wasteful use.
The fourth imperative is to control climate change, which on the one hand can cause copious rainfall at times and in areas which do not need it, and on the other can bring drought to other areas, particularly in tropical zones. But this is not all: glaciers in the Alps , Andes and Tibet are shrinking and causing crisis situations. For example, the city of Lima is totally dependent on water that comes from the Andes, and the reduction in size of Andean glaciers could provoke a water crisis in the capital of Peru The same thing could happen in the plains of China due to the large glaciers in Tibet decreasing in size.
Gas emissions also contribute to water shortages, and must definitely be reduced.
The fifth imperative is to be able to enjoy water as a common asset. Many people have remarked that water is a common heritage not a corporate commodity and there is significant conflict between the concept of water for life and water for profit. The quality of water that flows from the faucet is often as good as bottled mineral water with a label: so why should we drink water that we have to buy? This excludes a lot of people who cannot afford it. We need to remove the label from water and make it a true common heritage