How Climate Change Affects Water Systems


Water has always been one of the most integral, basic needs of humans. With climate change affecting the water system, it leads to consequences that burdens us all.. The continuous increase in the average global temperature changes the hydrologic cycle, affecting the precipitation and evaporation processes as well as the pattern of consumption, causing extreme storms and floods and increasing the demand for water in the global aspect.

So how does climate change affect the water system? Climate change has a direct impact to the quantity and quality of water. The water-related issues are also associated with other problems in society affecting food, energy, health and other economic and physical vulnerabilities. Climate change affects the water system through changes in the quality and quantity of water that leads to scarcity, floods and destroyed water infrastructures. The government should address these concerns and make it a priority in most of the environmental policies for the sake of humanity and their future.

Water Quality

Climate change affects the availability of water causing droughts, precipitation, and depletion. There is a direct impact to the water temperature due to the ambient air temperature which is likely to increase as a result of global warming. It affects the ecosystems changing the hydrology and the air temperature. The water temperature variations govern the physic-chemical equilibrium conditions in bodies of water such as rivers. Increase in the water temperature leads to the reduction of oxygen solubility, thereby reducing the dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations. Hence, saturation occurs at lowered DO concentrations. There are changes in the transport and concentration of contaminants in these water sources that have an impact on the quality of water. Associated outbreaks of algal blooms, increase in the algae producing toxins, and the formation of hypoxic environments greatly affects the quality of water and the general well-being of the ecosystem. Global warming causes an increase in temperature. Warmer climate fosters the growth and survival of bacteria and viruses and other invasive species that have a great impact on the quality of the available water supply.

Water Quantity

Climate change has a direct impact on the water sources. The lack of appropriate action of people leads to a heavier burden of the scarcity of drinking water. Currently, there is a current stress on water supply due to the continuous growth of population and lack of investment in the infrastructures for water. Ultimately, this will lead to finding alternative water sources for the drinking water supplies for both urban and rural areas. It will also increase the potential for conflicts as the water scarcity would intensify. The insufficient water supply is also associated with health problems due to water-borne diseases and improper sanitation.

There is a strong link between the water resources available to the well-being of the societies of a human. Water is an important resource for various human activities that include the industrial, hygiene, recreation, drinking, agriculture, and recreation. The various changes in the water availability through droughts, precipitation, and depletion of volumes of the aquifer have direct consequences for the growth and development of local villages and also to the urban communities. Global climate change is due to the temperature increase of about 1-5 degree centigrade resulting to the decrease in the water precipitation and uncertainties in the trend of rainfall. Other contributory factors to water scarcity include urbanization, population growth, institutional resilience and robustness of water availability, changes in the land use, and depletion of aquifers that all affect the water supply. The demand for water is increasing. This condition forces the poor people to use unsuitable water leading to poor health and health problems.

Excess Water and Flooding

Climate change alters the magnitude, timing, and duration of rainfall, precipitation, and other weather events. Various pieces of evidence reveal that the variability in climate have increased to a degree where the predictability of availability of water has been reduced significantly, where there are the intensification and shifting of the extreme weather conditions. There are several regions that already experience the dramatic increase in calamities and disasters that include floods brought by hurricanes and typhoons. There are rainfalls that exceed the carrying water channel capacity causing flood. So, there is the threat to the water system infrastructures. Millions of people along the low-lying coastal areas with high population are at risk of flooding exposures brought by storm surges. With the projection of increasing atmospheric temperature due to global warming, there is an increase in the sea level and increase in the storm intensities causing a substantial displacement of the population particularly those that are from the coastal zones. There will be recurring trends for storm surges and floods, where, if not effectively managed, would drive families from their homes resulting to movements of refugee and migration.

Water Infrastructures

Based on several studies and researches, the average global temperature would rise to about 4.5 degrees Celsius. This increase would accelerate the water evaporation in the water cycle, causing an increase in the global precipitation. The existing infrastructure for most water resources, such as the stormwater collection systems, wastewater treatment plants, and combined sewer systems are all designed in accordance to the past hydrologic records. The changes in the intensity of rainfall and extreme variability due to climate change are not accounted. Hence, these water and wastewaters utility systems and infrastructures are not built for the current stresses caused by climate change. There are four risks that threaten the water infrastructure systems: the impact to the water supply and distribution; the impact to the water quality; the impact to the operations and industries; and the economic impacts.

The direct effect of climate change on water is a direct effect on humanity. It is imperative therefore for a man to do immediate mitigation steps to adapt to the new patterns of this planet. Water infrastructures must be changed, investments for water storage must be established, and policies be made for the humanity to survive the present and the future.