Water scarcity has already begun to have considerable impact, especially in regions where people are already in crisis and conflict over this resource. Water scarcity is now becoming an issue for everyone throughout the world. Even in the United States, businesses have felt the pinch of increasing drought and diminishing water supply.
Water scarcity is being recognized as a risk to the entire global business community.Xiv A nuclear power plant in Tennessee, for example, was forced to halt operations temporarily in 2007 because of a drought in the region. In California, the electronics industry alone consumes approximately 24 percent of the state’s water. What will happen to the bottom lines of electronics companies as water becomes less available?
Several regions of the world, including the southwestern United States, have already reached “physical water scarcity,” a condition in which more than 75% of river flows are allocated to agriculture, industry, or domestic purposes.Xv
The global distribution of water is changing as well. According to estimates by the United Nations Environment Programme, one third of the world’s population live in dry lands, which are threatened by desertification.Xvi The livelihoods of more than 2 billion people are in jeopardy as farming and grazing land becomes increasingly parched. It doesn’t take much imagination to realize that access to water will be increasingly important and, if not solved, may become a source of violent conflict.