Cities Win the Water Reallocation Game, Study Shows

A new study says that huge amounts of water are moved from rural areas to cities to support rapidly growing urban populations.
April 23, 2019, 8am PDT | Camille Fink
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Linnaea Mallette

Water reallocation projects are diverting 16 billion cubic meters of water from rural areas to cities each year, according to new paper in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The problem will only grow since United Nations predictions show 2.5 billion people are expected to move to cities by 2050.

The study analyzed urban areas and reallocation projects around the world, with the majority in North America and Asia, and finds that urbanization is increasing competition between cities and agricultural areas. "Dr. [Dustin] Garrick said the world was ‘woefully underprepared’ due to a lack of data, particularly in South America and Africa."

Rural areas were most often the losers in reallocation projects, but planning has helped to mitigate outcomes. "The Mexican city of Monterrey, for example, provided farmers with compensation and city wastewater for irrigation, after diverting water from a tributary of the Rio Grande river in the 1990s, Dr. Garrick said."

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Published on Thursday, April 11, 2019 in The Straits Times
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