Imagine that nothing flows when you turn on the tap for next time. How would you feel? You’d be surprised, maybe a little worried, because water is something we can’t produce. Unfortunately, in many parts of the world, clean water supplies are rapidly drying out. This slow-moving disaster threatens the lives of millions of people from Arizona to Australia.
Pull the plug
Powell Lake in America is surrounded by dirty rings, just like a tub that needs cleaning. These are formed by decreasing the water in the lake and expanding the coastline downwards. Day by day, the water is getting smaller and more and more these rings are increasing. Powell Lake is the largest water reserve in the United States. It feeds on snow melting in the Rocky Mountains, but in the last decade, the water slope has dropped to record levels due to drought.
After an arid year, wheat harvest at this Australian farm is far below expectations. Since 1990, drought has been Australia’s biggest problem, which is already one of the driest regions in the world. What made matters worse was the salt contamination of large agricultural lands. This was a side effect of the process to make the land suitable for planting grain.
Millet is one of the most water-demanding plants. When growing millet, much more water is used than people use at home. Millions of liters of water are required to produce a TON of millet. In a dry climate, irrigation is done with different sources. This giant irrigation system is used on a farm in the middle west of America. The water used comes from the underground. There is water between the rock layers underground. But groundwater is also rapidly disappearing. Most of the underground resources have dried up in the last 50 years.
Most of the poorest farmers in the world live on very dry land to grow crops. Therefore, they raise animals instead of crops. They take the animals to the water sources and make them drink water. Sheep and goats need to drink water every day, as long as the main camels eat enough food, they can walk for a week without drinking water. They can also drink saltwater, which is a major advantage in areas where it is difficult to find water.