As climate changes water is becoming a scarce resource in many places around the world: lack of water and poor quality causes millions of human deaths a year. There are a number of ways that we can manage better to minimise water ‘stress’ and help the environment.
Water is a scarce resource around the world. It is anticipated that clean water will become even more precious with the impact of climate change – in many parts of the world, the next 50 years will be drier than the last 50.
Water in New Zealand
As climate change further exerts its effects on New Zealand, adequate access to water will become more and more of an issue. Climate change is predicted to increase the frequency of droughts. For example, North Canterbury will experience dwindling water supplies, decreasing rainfall, and more frequent serious droughts. Droughts that now occur on average once in every 20 years are predicted to occur as often as every two or three years in some places.
In 2006 many parts of New Zealand had their driest February for decades, according to the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research. In 2006 Lake Tekapo had its driest February in 80 years and Mt Cook its driest in 75 years. The South Island’s West Coast enjoyed unusual levels of sunshine, with Hokitika recording its sunniest February since measurements began 93 years ago. In Auckland, coastal and rural residents have been waiting up to a week to get water trucked in. Perversely, other parts of the country have been very wet. Northland’s rainfall was double the normal February quota.
All the signs indicate that water shortages will become more and more common in many parts of New Zealand in future. How can homeowners adapt to such a future?
The first step is to treat water like the valuable resource it is and use it as efficiently as possible. This will help take pressure off our reservoirs, rivers and underground sources and reduce the need to build more infrastructure, such as new dams and water treatment facilities, to supply us.