Global reservoirs are in danger of extinction, despite an increase in their total number. Researchers, using satellite data, analyzed changes in the volume of all water supplies over the past two decades. The results showed that some regions of the planet are experiencing more severe water supply problems than others.
Water is a vital resource for humanity, and its availability is becoming increasingly problematic with population growth and climate change. Scientists warn that global reservoirs have emptied considerably over the past 20 years, despite an increase in their total capacity thanks to the construction of new reservoirs.
Led by Dr. Huilin Gao, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Zahri, Texas A&M University, USA, scientists used a new approach with satellite data to estimate changes in the volume of the world’s 7,245 reservoirs from 1999 to 2018. The results showed that the volume of the world’s reservoirs increased by 28 cubic kilometers each year due to the construction of new reservoirs. However, the rate of reservoir filling was lower than expected or necessary.
Scientists note that as the world’s population grows and the climate changes, surface reservoirs are increasingly being used to meet growing demands. However, the amount of water available in these reservoirs has not been well estimated on a global scale. It is predicted that as water flows decrease and demand increases, the trend of reservoir emptying will continue, which could have serious consequences for humanity.
Reservoir declines are particularly noticeable in the south of the world, including South Asia, Africa, and South America, where population growth is increasing the demand for water. At the same time, reservoirs in the north, including regions in North America and Europe, tend to increase their maximum capacity. This is due to lower population density and less impact of human activity on these regions.
Scientists warn that meeting future water needs cannot depend entirely on building new reservoirs. More sustainable and efficient water management practices need to be developed and implemented. This can include improving rainwater harvesting and storage, increasing water use efficiency in agriculture and industry, and protecting and restoring ecosystems, which play a key role in conserving water resources.
It is important to note that the problem of emptying reservoirs is not new. For decades, scientists and environmentalists have been warning of the need for more responsible and sustainable use of water resources. However, the situation continues to worsen, and taking urgent action is becoming increasingly urgent.