Global Droughts Impact on Water Supply and Water QualityVarious regions across the globe have experienced or are still experiencing droughts that are affecting both the quantity and quality of drinking water.

South Africa, for instance, suffered a devastating drought last summer, and even though the winter brought rain, most dams are less than 50% full, and it is already spring in the region. Farmers, especially, have suffered greatly, which has led to major shortages of both meat and fresh fruit and vegetables, including maize, a staple for the majority of Africans.

Here, as in various other countries across Africa and in the rest of the world, food prices have risen dramatically. This has put additional stress on the poor, who were struggling to survive before, and can now scarcely afford to eat. This means that additional stress has been put on their general health as well as on their wallets, and there is not really any relief in sight.

Many areas of the United States are also in the grip of drought and facing water supply issues. Demand for drinking water will continue to rise as the population grows, and in areas where water is already scarce, access to fresh drinking water is really becoming a grave concern.

Warmer summer temperature, less total annual rainfall, less snowpack in the mountains, and earlier snowmelt mean less available water.

The quality of the water supply, especially in coastal and island regions, is at risk from changes in precipitation and rising sea levels. The occurrence of drought and rising sea levels can mean that the salinity of both surface water and ground water can increase via salt water intrusion.

Rising sea levels sometimes push salty water upstream in coastal areas, threatening surface water supplies, and this salt water can also then get into groundwater and aquifers that are used as a primary water supply for drinking water.

Water quality could also suffer in areas experiencing increases in rainfall when the precipitation becomes too much for failing and old infrastructure to handle and sewer systems and water treatment plants are overwhelmed by the sudden increased volumes of water. Heavy downpours can also result in increased runoff into rivers and lakes, polluting normally usable water supplies.

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