Urban Water Supply and Demand

Powerful Essays

Water availability critically influences human well-being and directly affects ecosystems and the environment. Water supply and demand issues are especially more complicated in areas of rapid urban and population growth. Projections say that 46 to 52 countries and a total population of 3 billion people will be water stressed by 2025 (Rosegrant, 1997). And to increase a little bit more the complexity, there is the fact that water availability is not homogeneous. Water is irregularly distributed and, consequently, water problems are region-specific.

Water supply and demand problems usually fall into the wicked problem category. Their complexity is based on the fact that they have many interdependencies, are multi-causal, and have no clear solution. Also, water problems involve changing behaviour and usually are associated with political decisions and planning efficiency. There is usually a conflicting interest problem, meaning that the “solution” to one party can be a “problem” for others (Freeman, 2000).

The aim of this study is to understand the social, economic and biophysical aspects of this issue and the interactions between them. Water scarcity can be either seen as physical or economic (Ricci et al, 2000). Physical scarcity has to do with the biophysical aspects of the issue and fall outside of human control. Economic scarcity is associated with the technology available and costs associated with the process of exploitation, treatment, distribution, and reuse of water. The analysis will consider both economic and physical water demand and their interactions.


Water resources are basically extracted from two sources: surface- and ground-water. The primary source that supplies ur...

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