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A River Runs Through It: Creative Strategies for Developing Water Supply

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On a global perspective, supplying water to people is a 400-billion-a-year industry. According to statistics provided by the World Bank, an estimated one billion people—one sixth of the world population—have poor access to clean drinking water, and three billion lack sanitary sewage facilities. It is estimated that by 2025, one in three persons will not have clean water, and one third will experience some form of water-related stress.

Water supply planning must be addressed on a macro scale as the world's population increases, as well as on a micro scale throughout regional areas across the United States. In the eastern United States, along rivers like the Savannah, the Pee Dee, the Roanoke, the Chattahoochee, and the Potomac, water supply issues are heating up. In the western part of the country, El Paso officials are operating under the assumption that their city's potable ground water supply could be exhausted in 25 years. Sustaining and developing water supply sources is at a critical juncture across the country.

Many regions have been slow to respond to the increasing demands on water supply and in forecasting future needs. South Carolina's population has gradually increased. It took approximately 175 years for the population to reach two million and then only fifty years for the population to double to four million. As people flock to coastal areas and the temperate climate of the upstate area, the population is steadily increasing. Tensions are increasing with North Carolina and Georgia over sharing water resources. Since 1990, a new water supply reservoir has not been permitted in the state. This is a result of a difficult permitting process involving state and federal agencies, federal agencies not considering water supply as a priority for water resources, and the fact that responsibilities are split among state agencies for water management planning and regulatory control.

To ensure the sustainability of current water sources and to enhance water supplies, straightforward business strategies must be implemented to avoid a future water crisis. Strategies include public/private partnerships, regulatory partnerships, joint ventures, interconnections, educational initiatives, and pricing strategies to develop and sustain water supply. Utilities must proactively implement a multi-tier approach to ensure that water is used wisely and that barriers to water supply development are eliminated.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2175/193864704784342055

Publication date: January 1, 2004

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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