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    074882

    Fresh water.

    Rogers PP

    In: The global possible: resources, development, and the new century, edited by Robert Repetto. New Haven, Connecticut, Yale University Press, 1985. 255-98. (World Resources Institute Book)

    Everyone uses fresh water. Water is the most used substance by industry. Even though industry only makes up 5-10% of current worldwide water use, it contributes a disproportionate amount of toxic contaminants to the water supply. The most important socioeconomic factors of municipal water demand are household income and size. Agricultural demand is the single largest demand for water. In the US, it makes up 83% of annual total water consumption. Water demand has resulted in some of the world's biggest construction and weather modification projects which greatly alter basic ecosystems. Multinational institutions such as the World Bank and the International Development Association support most of these projects in developing countries. We have abused water perhaps more than any other resource. These abuses have caused considerable adverse effects. For example, after farmers in Africa and Asia began irrigating fields, many people fell ill with schistomosiasis. Other waterborne diseases include typhoid fever and diarrheal diseases. Investments in water supplies as well as in wastewater treatment are needed to improve public health. The largest consumers of fresh water in the world are those countries with the largest populations (49% of the world's population) and largest total land area (32% of the this area): China, India, the US, and the USSR. These 4 countries have 61-70% of the world's total irrigated land, but China and India have most of it (54%). Most US water expenditures are for water pollution control. The US has a very efficient agricultural system but the efficiency is technical rather than economic. Most water expenditures in the USSR and India are for irrigation. China spends most of its water resource funds on irrigation and drainage systems. All countries in the world should conduct a rational analysis of fresh water uses, implement rational water pricing policies to conserve water use, and stabilize water supplies such as capturing surface runoff.
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