It's not as though there's really any less water. It's just that it's not where we need it when we need it and, too often, it's where we don't need it when we don't want it. The warming atmosphere, for example, is now holding a lot more of it in the form of water vapour (itself a greenhouse gas) where it actually fuels more frequent and more severe storms that too often tend to return it in the form of floodwaters.
Any farmer will tell you that water is a blessing but can also be a curse. Getting enough water is vital but that means getting the requisite amount of water at the requisite times. Too much, either too soon or too late, spells disaster or at least crop failure. Too much too early the farmer may not be able to get on the land to plant. Too much in mid season and the crops may rot in the field. Too much late in the year and the farmer may not be able to get back on the land to harvest. African herdsmen have learned the same lesson. Drought leaves their cattle facing starvation. Inundation leaves their cattle to drown. Either way they're out of cattle.
It's all connected. The world water crisis directly impacts crop yields. That impacts food prices. Food shortages cause staple prices to spike. Spiraling food prices help put people like Hosni Mubarak out of work which gets people in other countries asking themselves why they're still putting up with the same kind of jackass.
Yesterday the Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed by Nestle Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe and others making the case that water is much too important to be managed by governments and must instead by allowed to be controlled by private sector giants like, oh surprise, Nestle.
" We have the knowledge, funds, technology and experience to make this possible. That we do not is because of poor water management and governance practices, and the lack of political will.
" For universal access to clean water, there is simply no other choice but to price water at a reasonable rate. The city of Phnom Penh, Cambodia has shown how good water management, including sensible water pricing, can assure clean drinkable water to all its citizens on a continuous basis. By improving its management, it can now provide clean water that can be drunk straight from the taps without any adverse health impacts. Through equitable water pricing, the water bills of poorest households in the slums have been reduced by 70 percent to 80 percent, and residents receive clean water 24 hours a day in their houses."
I suppose it was just oversight that these jokers didn't mention their own track record on just what is "reasonable", "sensible" and "equitable" but, rest assured, you probably wouldn't see things the same way. There's an insane amount of spin from these types.
We in Canada are truly blessed when it comes to water but that doesn't mean parts of the country won't face water problems and it certainly doesn't mean we can take our water resources for granted, not for a minute.