Conflicts over water

September 15, 1995

As rain washes the issues of water shortage and drought out of the headlines, at least temporarily, another water-related subject emerges in the media, namely the possibility of the merger of two water and electricity utility companies. Only last week, the environmental, industrial and domestic impact of the drought has been debated. While the disaffected parties stated their positions and solutions, the emphasis was given to immediate and short-term action.

However, the long-term solution of water management requires a fundamental appraisal of policies on resources, storage, distribution, recycling, etc in order to achieve a sustainable supply and healthy environment. Given the limitations of resources, storage and distribution, the emphasis should be placed on industrial and domestic water recycling and zero industrial emission. Such measures should be combined with promotion of energy efficiency since only an integrated water, energy and environment policy can be economically viable.

It is predicted many of the world's future conflicts will be over water. In potentially volatile regions, water recycling and in-home water treatment are already being undertaken. Current research activities show the necessary technology can be developed to deliver water recycling and reduce emission of pollutants into the sewage system and rivers. In this context the merger of North West Water and Norweb makes sense.

G. Akay University of Nottingham

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