Q:

What causes water shortages?

A:

Quick Answer

Water shortages occur whenever the use of fresh water outstrips the supply from precipitation and the water cycle. While wasted water re-enters the water cycle and is eventually available again for re-use, the time necessary for water to pass into the water table and replenish aquifers means that overuse can temporarily drain these important water sources. Dry weather can also cause shortages due to a lack of replenishing precipitation.

Know More
What causes water shortages?
Credit: Andrew Hart CC-BY-2.0

Full Answer

A major source of water overuse is agriculture. Agriculture accounts for 70 percent of the freshwater use in the world, and as much as 60 percent of that water is wasted due to poorly maintained irrigation equipment or poor irrigation techniques. This excess water simply runs off of farmland or is absorbed through the ground back into the water table, but it can take a considerable amount of time for it to return to the aquifer that initially supplied it.

Water shortages can also be economic in nature. Especially in dry regions of the globe, access to water can be extremely important, and communities may feud over rights to a particular reservoir. In some cases, water may be pumped from a source over a significant distance to provide water for citizens in dry areas, leaving those in the source region lacking their natural water supply.

Learn More

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is accumulation in the water cycle?

    A:

    Accumulation is the part of the water cycle in which water gathers in large quantities such as rivers, lakes, oceans, glaciers, ice caps and aquifers, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. After water accumulates, it evaporates back into the atmosphere to start the water cycle over again. Accumulation occurs after water precipitates out of the sky.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is percolation in relation to the water cycle?

    A:

    Percolation is part of the water cycle that occurs after precipitation and before storage during which water filters down through aerated soil due to gravity. After percolation, water is stored in groundwater reservoirs until it reaches a point where sunlight warms it and the water evaporates. Much like a coffeemaker percolates water from top to bottom, water percolates down through soil until it reaches the water table.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Why is the water cycle important?

    A:

    The global water cycle is important because every living organism on earth depends on water to survive. Without water, all living organisms would die very quickly.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What causes wildfires?

    A:

    Human actions such as tossing lit cigarettes, leaving campfires unattended, arson and burning debris often cause wildfires, according to the National Park Service. Natural phenomena such as lightning and lava flow also contribute, though less frequently in America. Equipment usage sometimes causes wildfires, states the Arbor Day Foundation.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore