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Water Wars: A Glimpse into the Future

Updated on July 18, 2012
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HL Keeley has received a Bachelors Degree in Middle Grades Education. She has just completed her first year teaching.


Approximately two-thirds of the planet is covered in water. Out of those two-thirds, only three-tenths of the water is fresh. Seventy percent of the adult body is water (1). Without water, an adult can only survive three to five days (2). Freshwater is used not only for drinking, but also for showering, caring for plants, cleaning appliances, and used in many pools(9). In the United States alone, 346,000 gallons of freshwater are used in a day (1). Freshwater can be found in aquifers underground. Freshwater is also found in streams, lakes, ponds, rivers, and wetlands (3). With freshwater being scarce, countries have unequal availability of water. The distribution of water will then cause problems between countries. (5). According to Oxford English Dictionary, war is defined, “Hostile contention by means of armed forces, carried on between nations, states, or rulers, or between parties in the same nation or state.” When a country feels cheated out of not getting water for their citizens, they will resort to military tactics to get what they need (5).

There are policies intact in some countries to regulate water usage. In 1948, the United States enacted the basis of the current Clean Water Act. The act regulates how much pollution is allowed to be released into surface water. In 1972, the act was expanded and given its name. This act helps cleaning freshwater that is in danger of pollution. Water mills use rivers to give energy to a factory which will then in turn pour pollutants into the water (7). As previously stated, a river is a source of freshwater. Polluting rivers reduces the ability to use freshwater (3). Other acts that are enacted in the United States that are helping keep water clean are the National Environment Act and Great Lakes Toxic Substance Control Agreement. The Environment Protection Agency overlooks these acts to make sure they are enforced and keep citizens educated (8). Countries are trying to get basins for themselves or share with other nations. The map below created by Greg Fisk from Oregon State University outlines “basins at risk of disputes between countries,” “basins under negotiation,” “international boundaries,” and “political boundaries” around the world. The problem with this is distribution among the countries (6).

Water Basin's at Risk
Water Basin's at Risk

China’s irrigation system produces 70% of its food. In the parts of China that need water the most is where water is running out. Most of the water is in the South, but the farming is in the North. The aquifers in North China dropped 12 feet in three years. The Yellow River goes dry every year since 1982 (6). According to BBC’s news reporter Ben Summerlin, the Middle East only has 1% of the 5% shared freshwater in the world. The Jordan River Basin has become a problem in the years because of territorial disputes and overuse. The area has a dry, hot climate making the need for water even more in demand. The basin is in Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank. There is no formal agreement between the nations of water distribution. Israel and Syria have taken the most control over the area. Out of all the nations Israel uses the most water (5), but Jordan has the most water. Only 30% of the water in this area comes from the rivers. They get the rest of their water from the ground. In Israel, the government has strict laws about the construction of wells and the amount of water usage by the citizens (6). Water is one of the major factors in the conflicts in the Middle East. It is used against countries, but stopping distribution and rerouting rivers (5). In 1994, Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty that was mostly about water usage between the two countries (6). It is predicted that by 2025 that Arabian countries will be using “more than double the amount of water naturally available to them.” The Arabian countries lack conservation tactics for water. Mona El Kody was quoted saying that water scarcity can lead to terrorism (4).

The water crisis is not only in the Middle East and China, but all over the world. Steps have been taken in trying to prevent the depletion of freshwater, but the water problem still has not resolved. People have to step up and take initiative. The conservation and proper use of water is one way to start by everyone. It is a simple process that can be done anywhere by anyone in the world. Other solutions are repairing the old water systems and stopping pollution. One of the top solutions on the table is the education of freshwater. If more people know about the water crisis, there are more people looking for solutions and taking the necessary steps to water conservation (9). A unique way to help in water conservation is using saltwater instead of freshwater in the toilet system. People do not even touch the freshwater they use in the toilet. In China, residents in a Qingdao neighborhood were the first in China on mainland to have houses built to use seawater to flush. The article goes on to say that if residents used the seawater instead of freshwater, they would save $110 every day. “‘Although it cost us an extra $140 per household to build dual flushing facilities in each home, we will see a profit in 10 years, when freshwater will cost a lot more,’ Xiao said.” China is taking more initiative into the cleansing of seawater and developing the technology to make this global (10).

“The Earth, with its diverse and abundant life forms, including over six billion humans, is facing a serious water crisis. All the signs suggest that it is getting worse and will continue to do so, unless corrective action is taken. The crisis is one of governance, essentially caused by the ways in which humans have mismanaged water” (6). To create a world that is better for mankind, mankind has to stick together in this fight to better the world they live on. There are so many problems in the world. War and global warming are only two examples of the many problems. People have divided the world and only fight to protect their section. Freshwater is an essential resource in living. People can survive longer eating than without water because water is found in what they are eating. It hydrates people and the food people eat (2). With the struggle for water, disputes between countries have begun. This is not a matter of fighting over oil that fuels machinery. This is a matter over water that fuels our bodies.


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