We tend to take easy, safe access to water for granted until there’s a shortage of it (like in Texas) or an overflow (as with Hurricane Irene). There are a number of water risks that the world will face in the coming years, including deteriorating water quality, growing competition for limited access to resources, and an increase in water scarcity. The World Resource Institute’s Water Risk Atlas outlines those risks–and gives a preview of what you can expect in your town or city in the coming years.
The Atlas covers water risks across the globe–a red area means that it faces extremely high baseline water stress, while blue indicates low water stress. Clicking on individual areas yields information about their risks. A look at the Western U.S., for example, tells us that the Colorado River Basin faces “a chronic water shortage problem due to rapid population growth, significant agricultural water demand (which accounts for 78% of water use), and an over-allocation of water permits to users in the basin.”
We learn even more by searching for individual locations. A search for Boulder, Colorado, tells us that the city faces “high water stress” as a baseline condition. In three years, the city will still face near-normal conditions, but by 2025, it may be “extremely more stressed.” Translation: Residents might start to think twice about taking long showers.
But don’t decide to high-tail it out of your water-stressed city just yet. There are a handful of other tools that can help predict what the world will look like in the coming years, including the Union of Concerned Scientists’ map of potential climate change effects, and Cal-Adapt, a site
that displays what the
temperature increase will be in your town (or even neighborhood) through
Check out WRI’s map here.