Agricultural, Industrial and Domestic

I was reminded about the fundamental importance of the natural resource of water reading this week’s BNET’s blog post ‘What Is The Point Of Government?’. In an attempt to strip away all of the posturing and promises and programmes and platform planks, Jo Owen wanted to get back to basics and ask what are the fundamental things that people want. She observes…

To see what government is all about, it helps to see what happens when you don’t have a government. I’ve spent time with some with refugees from Somalia, which has not had a functioning government for 15 years. The number one thing they want from any government is the rule of law: if you cannot walk down the street safely, you become very grateful to any warlord, thug or religious militia to guarantee your safety (at a price). And without the rule of law, business is impossible: you cannot enforce contracts without goodwill or a Kalashnikov. Beyond the rule of law they want water, health and education. In that order. Try living without water for a week — see how long the rule of law lasts. Water counts. Health and education are relative luxuries.”

We in cosy London might think that water is the least of our problems. That it is primarily a problem of hot and dusty climates. Though the summer hosepipe bans after months of winter deluge provide some hint that managing water supply is not so simple even in an advanced country with relatively generous rainfall.

So if one accepts that water is a limited resource which, like many natural resources, is threatened by an increasing ravenous and exploitative human population, where does the problem lie. Michael Moore hasn’t done a film on water problems, but if he did, it would have been the award winning documentary Flow. The piece showcases a range of problems and systemic breakdowns around the world illustrating the very real and very painful affects when the spigots turn off.

Watching the film, I was struck by another instance of the 70-20-10 rule: water usage…

· 70% of water usage is Agricultural

· 20% of water usage is Industrial

· 10% of water usage is Domestic

The breakdown highlights the hypocrisy of measures like hosepipe bans and dribbling showers.

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