Worldwide Water Woes

Article excerpt

The topic of water scarcity has been on the minds of not only environmentalists but businesses, too. Coca-Cola made headlines in 2004 when local officials in Kerala, India, shut down a $16 million Coke bottling plant that some local citizens blamed for a drastic decline in both the quantity and quality of their water supply. According to Maplecroft, a global risk analysis firm that publishes an annual water risk index, expanding populations, such as those of India and China, together with rising global temperatures indicate that water stress will continue to be a challenge for governments, business and society. "Water stress has implications for where and how companies should operate, as well as the sustainability of their activities," said Dr. Andrew Bunce, principal environmental analyst at Maplecroft. Some countries face a grave threat--there may soon not be enough water to go around. Here, we look at the locations most at risk from water stress.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

UNITED STATES

Various regions of the United States are facing a water crisis. Areas within the Great Plains and Southwest are suffering due to intensive farming and low precipitation. In the West, groundwater is being consumed faster than it is being replenished and groundwater tables are steadily falling. The Colorado River often runs dry before reaching the sea. At least 70% of its water is siphoned off for irrigation as the river now serves 30 million people in seven states and Mexico. Ranked as "high risk," the United States still has a long way to go, but it has introduced new water conservation measures, promoted green construction and adopted water-saving agricultural methods.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

CHINA

The climbing population, booming industrial economy and rising agricultural needs in China have led to the country being rated as "high risk" due to severe water stress concerns. …