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Über dieses Buch

Produced biennially, The World's Water is the most comprehensive and up-to-to date source of information and analysis on freshwater resources. Each new volume examines critical global trends and offers the best data available on a variety of topics related to water.

Volume 7 features chapters on U.S. water policy, transboundary waters, and the effects of fossil fuel production on water resources, among other timely issues. Water briefs provide concise updates on topics including bottled water, The Great Lakes Water Agreement, and the state of the Colorado River.

Since the first volume of The World's Water appeared in 1998, the series has become an indispensable resource for professionals in government agencies and nongovernmental organizations, researchers, students, and anyone concerned with water and its use.



Chapter 1. Climate Change and Transboundary Waters

Freshwater is a fundamental resource, integral to all ecological and societal activities, including food and energy production, transportation, waste disposal, industrial development, habitat for fish species, and human health. Yet freshwater resources are unevenly and irregularly distributed, with some regions of the world extremely short of water. Political borders and boundaries rarely coincide with borders of watersheds, ensuring that politics inevitably intrude on water policy. Indeed, over 260 river basins are shared by two or more nations. Just as oil creates disputes between states, water also plays a role in international conflicts. Inequities in the distribution, use, and consequences of water management have been a source of tension and dispute. In addition, as previous volumes of The World’s Water have explored (see, for example, Gleick 1998), water resources have been used to achieve military and political goals, and water systems and infrastructure, such as dams and supply canals, have long been military targets.
Heather Cooley, Juliet Christian-Smith, Peter H. Gleick, Lucy Allen, Michael J. Cohen

Chapter 2. Corporate Water Management

Water is an essential input for industries and economies around the world. It is used to cool industrial processes, to dilute contaminants, as a solvent, and as a key ingredient in many products, among other uses. Industrial water use and wastewater discharge can adversely affect nearby communities and ecosystems. For example, improper wastewater discharge can severely pollute recreational water bodies, contaminate drinking water supplies, and make water unusable for other needs. Excessive groundwater pumping increases pumping costs for local growers. Large water withdrawals can also take water away from other uses and exacerbate water-quality concerns by further concentrating contaminants.
Peter Schulte, Jason Morrison, Peter H. Gleick

Chapter 3. Water Quality

Every day, millions of tons of inadequately treated sewage and industrial and agricultural wastes pour into the world’s waters. Every year, lakes, rivers, and deltas take in the equivalent of the weight of the entire human population—or the weight of nearly seven billion people—in the form of pollution. Every year, more people die from the consequences of unsafe water than from all forms of violence, including war. And, every year, water contamination of natural ecosystems affects humans directly by destroying fisheries or causing other impacts on biodiversity that affect food production. In the end, most polluted freshwater ends up in the oceans, causing serious damage to many coastal areas and fisheries and worsening the challenge of resource management.
Meena Palaniappan, Peter H. Gleick, Lucy Allen, Michael J. Cohen, Juliet Christian-Smith, Courtney Smith

Chapter 4. Fossil Fuels and Water Quality

Fossil fuels are essential to the global economy—for electricity production, transportation, plastics and chemicals manufacturing, heating, and many other purposes. However, the extraction and processing of fossil fuels, in addition to their use, have profound impacts on the environment and natural resources, including water. Large oil spills— such as the recent Deepwater Horizon drilling rig spill, which leaked over 4.9 million barrels (780,000 cubic meters) of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico—have focused attention on the potential for disasters associated with oil drilling to cause contamination of the natural environment (Lubchenco et al. 2010). The growing recognition of the serious risks to surface-water and groundwater quality from natural gas fracking operations also raises new questions. And even normal fossil-fuel extraction and refining processes pollute the environment.
Lucy Allen, Michael J. Cohen, David Abelson, Bart Miller

Chapter 5. Australia’s Millennium Drought: Impacts and Responses

As this edition of The World’s Water goes to press in early 2011, eastern Australia is recovering from devastating floods that claimed more than 20 lives and destroyed hundreds of homes. The heavy rains of 2009 and 2010 that caused so much destruction also marked the end of Australia’s decade-long Millennium Drought. Beginning in about 1997, declines in rainfall and runoff had contributed to widespread crop failures, livestock losses, dust storms, and bushfires. Such are the vagaries of water on the continent with the world’s most uncertain and variable climate.
Matthew Heberger

Chapter 6. China Dams

Dams are a central component of water management around the world, providing flood control, hydroelectric power, water supply, recreation, and more. There are no highly accurate estimates of the numbers of dams that have been built, but the World Commission on Dams (2000) estimated that there are around 45,000 dams larger than 15 meters in height and perhaps as many as 800,000 smaller ones. Two trillion dollars has been invested in them in the past century (Vörösmarty et al. 2005).
Peter H. Gleick

Chapter 7. U.S. Water Policy Reform

The United States faces a bevy of persistent and emerging water challenges in the 21st century. Many key water laws and policies are outdated or not effectively or equitably enforced. An increasing number of aquatic ecosystems are in danger of collapse. Many cities, businesses, and farms are not taking advantage of existing, cost-effective water conservation technologies and practices. Much of the nation’s infrastructure is outdated and will become increasingly obsolete as climate change alters the timing and magnitude of water supplies. Rising energy demands and shifts in energy sources, such as increased ethanol and natural gas production, are putting additional pressure on the nation’s water resources. In turn, increased water demand for growing populations will have important energy implications.
Juliet Christian-Smith, Peter H. Gleick, Heather Cooley

Water Brief 1. Bottled Water and Energy

The consumption of “bottled water”—fresh water sold in individual, consumer-sized containers—is growing rapidly. More than 200 billion liters of bottled water were sold in 2008 (the last year for which reliable, public data are available), mostly in North America and Europe, but with rapidly expanding sales in many developing countries as well.1
Peter H. Gleick, Heather Cooley

Water Brief 2. The Great Lakes Water Agreements

The Great Lakes comprise the largest surface freshwater system on Earth, containing roughly 84 percent of the freshwater in North America and about 21 percent of the world’s total freshwater supply (see Figure Wb 2.1). The Great Lakes Basin is home to more than 30 million people in the United States and Canada and accounts for 7 percent of American farm production and 25 percent of Canadian farm production (US EPA 2008). Freshwater is among the region’s most valuable and important resources— economically, ecologically, and culturally. In the last century, however, these resources have been subjected to heavy pollution and increased withdrawals and diversions often leading to adverse ecological and community impacts. In response, many have called for more effective and coordinated management of the Basin’s freshwater resources. The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact (not to be confused with the Great Lakes Basin Compact of 1968) is the most recent and comprehensive in a long series of legislative actions to strengthen and coordinate basin water management while protecting it from use by interests outside the region.
Peter Schulte

Water Brief 3. Water in the Movies

Water is a theme that runs through all forms of popular culture, from books to myths to Hollywood and international films, with a growing number of shorter video pieces posted online at YouTube and similar sites. A surprising number of popular movies, going back almost to the first days of movie-making, have incorporated the issue of water disputes and conflicts over water rights and allocation as a central theme. Below is a list of some of these classic (good and bad) films. I’ve also included a few links to online shorter videos related to water. Huge numbers of these are available; here are just a few of my favorites. Feel free to send suggestions of others to
Peter H. Gleick

Water Brief 4. Water Conflict Chronology

I’m delighted to note two important changes to the Water Conflict Chronology since it last appeared in print in The World’s Water 2008–2009. First, a completely revamped electronic version now appears at, with integrated Google Maps; time, location, and subject filters; and a separate searchable bibliography. This is the first substantive redesign in more than a decade, facilitated by Matthew Heberger at the Pacific Institute. The second change is a substantive set of additions, with a major contribution from some readers, especially Pavlo Anakhov from Kiev, Ukraine.
Peter H. Gleick, Matthew Heberger

Data Section

Average annual renewable freshwater resources are listed by country, updating Table 1 in the previous versions of The World’s Water. Data from UN FAO AQUASTAT was updated to reflect the most recent data in that database. However, because these data are typically produced by modeling or estimation, rather than measurement, we use data from other sources where possible (even if older than data in AQUASTAT ). Data in this table typically comprise both renewable surface-water and groundwater supplies, including surface inflows from neighboring countries. The UN FAO refers to this as total natural renewable water resources. Flows to other countries are not subtracted from these numbers. All quantities are in cubic kilometers per year (km3/yr). These data represent average freshwater resources in a country—actual annual renewable supply will vary from year to year.
Peter H. Gleick

Water Units, Data Conversions, and Constants

Water experts, managers, scientists, and educators work with a bewildering array of different units and data. These vary with the field of work: engineers may use different water units than hydrologists; urban water agencies may use different units than reservoir operators; academics may use different units than water managers. But they also vary with regions: water agencies in England may use different units than water agencies in France or Africa; hydrologists in the eastern United States often use different units than hydrologists in the western United States. And they vary over time: today’s water agency in California may sell water by the acre-foot, but its predecessor a century ago may have sold miner’s inches or some other now arcane measure.
Peter H. Gleick


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