I have heard it from many, many places that the big cities are drawing too much water from their aquifers, and then climate change will exacerbate that problem amongst a very many others. My city, London, has been said to face severe water shortages by 2040/2050, as will much of the planet. I do not know where to begin researching these statements rigorously, but I don’t have any faith that our governments are doing much to research the problem / take action against it and I find it very plausible that these statements are not too exaggerated.

This is a very brief question, but ... just how severe (or hopefully someone can tell me how preventable) is this problem?


2 Answers 2


To try to address current and future water shortage issues, some countries have implemented cloud seeding programs to induce rainfall. Such countries include: China, the United States of America, Dubai, India, Venezuela, the United Arab Emirates.

Many countries, over the years have experimented with cloud seeding, with varying degrees of success, such as in Australia, where it is success in some parts of the country, but not others.

Some jurisdictions have established water desalination plants to supplement existing supplies. Such schemes can be expanded.

In addition to such measures, water conservation programs, to reduce water consumption, form part of the strategies. Such programs include reducing domestic water usage in the bathroom & laundry,by reducing bathing times and the implementation of dual flush toilets. Redirecting rain water from household gutters to storage tanks so the water can be used on gardens.

Gray water systems have been used on an industrial scale in Mexico and are being introduced on a domestic scale elsewhere.

What strategy gets used where, will depend on what is most appropriate for each locality.


In 2018 the BBC reported on 11 cities most likely to run out of drinking water, London was one of them. The others were Sao Paulo, Bangalore, Beijing, Cairo, Jakarta, Moscow, Istanbul, Mexico City, Tokyo & Miami.

After enduring a drought, in which water levels started to decline in 2015, Cape Town nearly ran out of water in 2018, where dam capacity reached 15 to 30 percent. The city was 90 days away from having no water. Cape Town got lucky, heavy rains began falling in June 2018, averting the crisis and by September 2018 the dams were close to 70 percent full. In 2020, with successive rain the dams were 95 percent full.

As part of the strategy to ensure more water a desalination plant was built.

As a result of the Millennium Drought in Australia from 1997 to 2009, six major desalination plants were constructed between 2006 and 2012. These plants have a capacities ranging between 125 ML per day to 410 ML per day (45 GL/yr to 150 GL/yr). Another 18 additional smaller plants were also constructed and another 6 are planned or being constructed.

Britain is an island nation. It has easy and readily available access to sea water. If the will and money were there, desalination plants could easily be constructed to supply any part of Britain. The other problem that will need to be solved if such plants were to be construction is what energy source will be used to allow the plants to operate. The desalination plant in Perth, Western Australia initially had a dedicated wind farm. It may still be operating using renewable energy sources for its full production.

What happens with London's water supply issues will depend on what the government and water authorities do and how timely they are about it.

  • $\begingroup$ Are these promising strategies? I felt really very frightened earlier - I’ve calmed down now - but the situation does appear bleak from the perspective of someone not in-the-know $\endgroup$
    – FShrike
    Nov 26, 2021 at 22:37
  • $\begingroup$ It really comes down to what the government & water authorities do about it & how timely they are. Cape Town nearly ran out of water in 2018. See my edit to the question regarding this. $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Nov 27, 2021 at 2:05

Build desalination plants, build nuclear plants to run them. supposed water wars of the future will never erupt. Water is too heavy and dense a substance. A gallon of water weighs over 8 pounds, so transporting it accounts for most of the costs, so the idea of these Mad Max style thugs running off with water jugs is ridiculous, they would have to drink a lot of it sweating from the workout carrying it. It's not cost effective to do it in the long run compared to spending the money/resources on developing new supplies of potable water. A months worth of fighting between Israel and neighboring nations over water sources would be more costly than if Israel built several desalination plants and ran them for a year. Human activity consumed 3000 cubic kilometers of water in the year 2000, up from 600 cubic km in 1900. Yet the world contains 1.38 billion cubic kilometers. Future demands for water coincide with a future growing GDP, water access and cleanliness will increase in the future not decrease. Desalination is expensive no doubt and recycling waste water is less expensive than the latter but more expensive than traditional water, but the costs are becoming more competitive, desalination costs have declined by half in the last ten years and no doubt will decline even further in the next decade.

The demand for what was considered a scarce resource led to the development of an economical way of extracting it or substitutes.

Example: In the 1970?s and 80s, computer and telecommunications was rapidly growing requiring huge demand for copper to wire the world. Fears regarding copper price surges and monopolies hoarding stockpiles selling to select few. But by the 90's copper prices declined due to the invention of optical fiber replacing copper for the telecommunications market and millions of miles strewn across the country and around the world in far greater excess than copper might have provided. Being largely made of glass (i.e sand) is not a strategic resource.....

Water cleansing technologies. There's an entire host of various water tech that can be scaled large scale or individual.


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