Water is a vital resource for human survival and is essential for agriculture, industry, and ecosystems. Climate change is exacerbating water insecurity by causing changes in precipitation patterns, leading to more extreme weather events such as droughts and floods, and impacting the availability of fresh water. It is projected that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will live in areas with absolute water scarcity and two-thirds of the global population, over 4 billion people, will live with severe water scarcity. In addition, water scarcity is likely to exacerbate in already water-stressed regions, reducing crop yields and increasing the risk of water-related disasters and conflict.
Addressing water insecurity is critical to ensuring food security and sustainable development, and it is essential that we take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, work toward shifting our systems and individual actions and adapt to the impacts of climate change on water resources. Below are resources where you can learn more key subsections of this complex matter, also including our coastal and oceanic water, groups working toward solutions and making positive progress as well as things you can do to take action.
Image: Rachel Mounsey, Regenerosity, 2021. Photograph of Alice Pepper, Gunaikurnai Artist.
WHERE YOUR WATER COMES FROM
Despite the ease of turning on the tap and accessing water in an instant, the journey your water took and its value is important to recognise. Water comes from various sources such as rainwater, surface water (lakes, rivers, and streams), and groundwater (aquifers). A significant amount of the world’s water is also stored in glaciers and ice caps which are released into rivers and oceans when the ice melts. Knowing where water comes from is important because it helps us understand water availability, quality and management going into the future considering the impacts of climate change on water resources.
Melbourne Water – The main water supplier in Melbourne, this resource page provides information on Melbourne’s sources of water, how it is treated and delivered, and how to conserve water. The City of Melbourne also provides a comprehensive page on the city’s water supply.
Yarra Valley Water – The Yarra Valley provides the majority of our fresh, high-quality water. This resource explains the water storage dams, supply, and delivery and the page includes an interactive map that shows the location of the water supply system and the different sources of water.
US Geological Survey – This resource aims to give a comprehensive understanding of the Earth’s water resources and their distribution, as well as the challenges and opportunities associated with managing these resources. It also provides information on the different forms of water such as freshwater, saltwater, and brackish water, where they are found on Earth and their relative availability with interactive maps and data.
WHY WATER MATTERS
As aforementioned, life as we know it critically relies on our freshwater supplies. With those supplies being threatened, the way we use and manage water faces compromisation. Information on why this is important and the different ways this nuanced challenge must be considered can be found below.
Pacific Institute – an independent think tank that conducts research on water and climate change, with a focus on the impacts of climate change on water resources and communities.
Water Footprint Network – provides information on water scarcity and sustainable water use, including the impact of climate change on water resources.
UN-Water – a United Nations platform on water and sanitation, with information on the sustainable development goals related to water and the impact of climate change on water security.
World Water Council – The World Water Council is an international organization that promotes political awareness and action on water conservation issues. The organization also provides a platform for dialogue and cooperation among stakeholders, including governments, the private sector, and civil society organizations.
Columbia Water Center – With a focus on the development of evidence-based innovations to address global water issues, they produce research on issues such as America’s water security and the water-food-energy nexus.
Thirst Project – A water organization that educates students about the clean water crisis and mobilizes them to take action.
Project WET – An additional youth-based organisation that helps young people through their programs and materials which aid in prompting education on important water concepts such as managing and protecting water resources.
DROUGHT AND WATER DEMANDS
Climate change in increasing the prevalancy of drought events with aridity growing globally. Discover groups working in this space to naviagte and mitigate the challenges of this compenent of climate change’s impacts on our water.
Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment – Updated information on programs and national plans addressing drought including the work behind the Future Drought Fund (investing $100 million a year to build drought resilience).
Water Victoria – Resources for individuals to access about our state’s drought infrastructure and individual actions.
Water Footprint Calculator – Discover the hidden water in your everyday products and how the products you buy, the food you eat and the clothes you wear may be significantly contributing to your water footprint. and ways you can mitigate this.
Water for Victoria – Long-term directions for managing the precious water of Victoria outlining state-specific challenges and plans on how to navigate them such as climate change and population growth, and taking action to ensure our water system is modern and efficient, future-focused and affordable.
WATER AND INEQUALITY
Access to water at present is not equal across nations and this gap is set to further widen with the reduction in water supplies, 771 million people ( 1 in 10) lack access to safe water. Work in reducing this gap and providing aid to those in need can be found below.
WaterAid – An international nonprofit organization that focuses on providing access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene education in developing countries. WaterAid has a strategy to reach 400 million people in the next decade to end the water crisis once and for all.
Water for Good – Works with communities in the Central African Republic to establish sanitation best practices, improve agriculture, and empower people to create sustainable clean water access.
Splash – Is a water organization that serves disadvantaged cities. Splash works with local governments and businesses to educate children about effective hygiene practices and trains local organizations and businesses to properly maintain toilets.
Planet Water Foundation – Serves schools, children, and rural communities worldwide by installing water filtration systems and launching health education programs.
Water.org – Co-founded by Matt Damon, Water.org provides innovative solutions to the world water crisis including the microfinance program WaterCredit. Water microloans allow borrowers to improve their access to clean water and then repay the money so it can be redeployed to other communities. With large-scale practical solutions, more than 51 million people around the world can turn on a tap or safely use a toilet.
Charity: Water – Tackles the problem of lack of clean water by raising money for clean water projects. It finds organizations providing long-lasting water services and funds their projects to provide clean water. What sets it apart is that 100% of public donations fund water projects and GPS coordinates are provided so completed projects can be viewed on Google Maps.
Clean Water Action – For 40 years, Clean Water Action has promoted legislation to protect water resources in the United States including the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. They continue to work to close legal loopholes to prevent the pollution of freshwater resources.
SEA LEVEL RISE AND COSTAL MANAGEMENT
With sea levels rising, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it is projected they will rise between 1 and 4 feet by 2100. Coastal management strategies can help reduce the impact of sea level rise on communities and infrastructure. Discover more about projections and groups working to manage this threat.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – provides information on the impact of climate change on water resources, including sea level rise, changes in precipitation patterns, and the effects on freshwater and coastal ecosystems.
The Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence – This organization focuses on the development and dissemination of tools, strategies, and best practices for coastal resilience and adaptation to climate change.
The Natural Resources Defense Council – NRDC works to protect communities and wildlife from the impacts of sea level rise through policy advocacy, scientific research, and on-the-ground projects.
The Union of Concerned Scientists – UCS works to promote science-based solutions to address the impacts of sea level rise, including through supporting the development of more resilient coastal communities.
The Coastal States Organization – CSO works to promote the protection and conservation of coastal resources through policy advocacy, research, and outreach.