South Africa Already Using 98% of Surface Water

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In a recent update to a study on water resource availability in South Africa, scientists are now warning that previous estimates were off and that there is even less water available than previously estimated, reports the Cape Times. With 98% of surface water already accounted for, what is this nation to do?As the planet, and South Africa in particular, become hotter and drier, scientists warn that the nation has some serious decisions to make, and now. As scientists revisited the older studies as part of the 2005 Water Resources of South Africa study, they realized that the nation has 4% less surface water than was estimated at that time.

98% of surface water, which comes from sources like lakes, rivers and oceans, for example, is already being put to use, leaving just 2% available for any future growth or development. The other option is to find water from groundwater sources (like aquifers), but currently 41% of usable groundwater is allocated, leaving roughly 10,000 million cubic meters of groundwater available, but during droughts South Africa will have 25% less water available. Scientists are also estimating that South Africa has become 2% hotter and 6% drier since the 1970s, affecting water resources and increasing the struggle between citizens, animals, farmers and industries, all in need of water rights.

The study, which is now in its fifth version, was requested by the government in 2004 to get a better idea of water resources and to help different industries allocate water. The study provides localized information that "developers, farmers, policy-makers and municipalities" can use for planning. The study also shows how wastewater might affect water quality. Those are some serious odds facing any nation and unfortunately this is probably not the last country to go through this. :Cape Times
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