There is only a finite amount of water in the world. Unlike other resources such as wood, which can be regrown, there is no way of creating more water – we just have to be careful with what we have.
But there are some areas of the world which guzzle up much more than their fair share, thriving – or surviving – on diverted water sources which otherwise wouldn’t exist there. The histories of water-deprived areas are often fraught with conflict as agricultural, recreational, environmental and urban users scramble for the limited resource.
Sin City is built on the Mojave Desert, and is only made habitable by almost total dependence on a single water supply. The illusion of a reliable water supply is what has contributed to its population growth: in 2010 population of the Las Vegas metropolitan area was almost two million, a leap of 400,000 in the past 10 years.
As The Telegraph reported earlier this year:
“The crisis stems from the Las Vegas’s complete reliance on Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir, which was created by the Hoover Dam in 1936 – after which it took six years to fill completely.
It is located 25 miles outside the city and supplies 90 per cent of its water. But over the last decade, as Las Vegas’s population has grown by 400,000 to two million, Lake Mead has slowly been drained of four trillion gallons of water and is now well under half full … it may be a “dead pool” that provides no water by about 2036.”
Las Vegas has been cited as one of the most wasteful cities when it comes to water – most of the water goes on sprinklers for grass, golf courses and parks. America’s most decadent destination may finally have run out of luck.
2. Los Angeles, California, USA
One of the most notoriously ‘dry’ cities, Los Angeles’ balmy, sunny climate is compounded by water shortages. Rainfall in California tends to follow a “boom-and-bust” pattern, meaning the West Coast is periodically ravaged by droughts and devastating floods. This is economically and environmentally disastrous.
Los Angeles, in southern California, has a rapidly expanding population of around 3.9 million. Having drained the aqua-rich Owens Lake in the 1920s and much of Mono Lake in the 1940s to feed its aqueducts, it now relies heavily on exported water from northern parts of the state, as well as state-funded conservation and water recycling projects.
According to watereducation.org:
“In 1960, California voters approved financing for construction of the initial features of the State Water Project (SWP). The project includes some 22 dams and reservoirs, a Delta pumping plant, a 444-mile-long aqueduct that carries water from the Delta through the San Joaquin Valley to southern California.”
3. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Dubai, the dusty city by the sea with a population of approximately 2.1 million, is an example of a city which uses large-scale desalination to provide water to its inhabitants (see FAQ for more information on how Desolenator employs this method). The arid landscape is hyper-developed because of huge wealth accumulated by the UAE from its oil reserves, which make up around 6% of Earth’s total.
According to this news source from 2013:
“Desalination plants that make seawater potable supply 98.8 percent of Dubai’s water, with the remaining 1.2 percent coming from groundwater sources, the Arabian Water and Power Forum was told today.”