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The fight for water | DW Documentary

Aug 14, 2022
imagine if we run out of


this is understanding what happens to a community that runs out of


there is no way to survive is this our future imagine our wells running dry i am afraid that eventually we will run out of water here and if the


for water turns into a war, some parts of the world will become uninhabitable due to rising heat here, the water crisis is a never-ending misery story, water is disappearing everywhere, suggesting a great global migration , societies need water to survive international conflicts will be inevitable from a global perspective humanity's approach to water is potentially lethal once politics is dictated by the


for water, then God help us, we are used to have plenty of water, but that is changing thanks to the climate crisis and water scarcity is becoming an increasingly important issue this series p Ask what happens if we don't have more water Avila Beach is a quaint resort town in Southern California with an old woo den pier stretching out into the local bay, but looks can be deceiving, as Pete Kelly of local community services tells us. , this paradise on the pacific coast is facing disaster, it's a beautiful place to be sure, but it's also very dry now compared to what I usually mean after a wonderful rainy spring it's so green around here you wouldn't believe it looks like ireland but not this year it's semi-desert after years of drought the land just behind the coast around avila beach is now eerily barren we too will run out of water in most places in california and it's going to get worse i would just say pray for rain 200 miles up the coast in northern california comparatively rich in water is the city of mendocino i mean cr i was born here, this is my home.
the fight for water dw documentary
In fact, I was a firefighter and worked in ems for about 15 years, so I'm not new to ER. I'm not new to community protection, but I'm relatively new to water and wastewater management and I started this career in the middle of one of the worst droughts in the last 100 years. The location of Mendocino in the cliffs overlooking the ocean has made it a popular tourist destination but these days fresh water has to be trucked in the ongoing drought threatens to sink its key industry we have relied on trucked water since at least January and the real problem happened on july 18th when fort bragg turned off the tap because every month we depend more and more on trucked water they all declared an emergency but all of a sudden there was no more water available that's when panic took over a whole county now reliant on trucked water and subject to a state of drought emergency declared by the state governor in 2021 a nightmare for the locals when shop owners started calling me and restaurants saying we have to close our toilets to the public because we don't have enough water.
the fight for water dw documentary

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This is a health and safety crisis. It is a human emergency. People cannot be allowed to defecate in the streets of the entire city. Restaurant and cafe owners have had to install portable toilets. Water makes the world go round and, in a first world country, the fact that we don't have continuous access to it. it is difficult and every day brings new uncertainty we do not know we go up day by day we have the risk that sometimes we can open the door because we do not have the water to run our business massimo milani is originally from italy like almost all restaurant owners his business it cannot function without water in your case it is provided by the authorities but it is rationed the county gave us water so this was the water we used for the client so we give each client a liter of viral and obviously if they ask for more water we give them more Water Water has never been in short supply here, so what is it like now to be left high and dry?
the fight for water dw documentary
You don't think about things differently, you know it's one thing to not have wi-fi everywhere you go, it's another thing entirely if you don't have drinking water and 10,000 kilometers east of California in Germany, water scarcity it has become a problem as well as in some parts of germany scorching temperatures have repeatedly depleted the supply of drinking water as here in the city of lawanau this is the local water authority due to high levels of consumption, local water supply levels remain critical, potable water supply may be interrupted from time to time The fire department will soon distribute a final supply of service water to your area.
the fight for water dw documentary
We have seen critical situations in the dry summers of recent years, but nothing like this here. In extreme situations like this, the local fire department provides people with water to the premises. supply can be restored, but why didn't those responsible anticipate the shortfall? An expert explains how a resource once taken for granted became a raw material scar without anyone really realizing it's absolutely fair that it's good Water is a very vulnerable resource in many ways but in Germany the days when we had plentiful water supplies are also gone and in some parts of northern bavaria there is severe water scarcity here in upper franconia one of the areas hardest hit by water scarcity in germany the regional water authorities monitor the groundwater level klaus adset teams up with simone price of the nuremberg water authority to carry out checks at a critical measurement site readings taken at key points like this will hopefully reveal any hidden developments underground as the probe plunges into the soil a light indicates when groundwater hits simone price records the most recent data with a few centimeters of vinegar four centi meters lower than last week and one and a half meters lower than last year we have been measuring this site since 2012. since then the groundwater level has dropped 13 meters we also monitor other measurement sites in bavaria and we have seen that the levels Groundwater levels are falling and take longer to replenish if they are recovering, but what if groundwater levels continue to sink at this rate?
We are currently improving, there is no way we can do anything. medium to long-term predictions if these long dry periods persist, the groundwater level will continue to drop, since a large proportion of drinking water in bavaria comes from groundwater, then obviously less water will naturally be available vinegar and one of the results of falling groundwater levels are already visible at this well it has supplied drinking water to 200 homes for over a century this is the house of the well expanding and renovating the well would be expensive michael bellau of the regional environmental agency oversees the installation in 2020 we recorded record lows for groundwater levels and you notice by the discharge that there is less water and with those levels no longer sufficient the well is set to be shut down while the population here in toisnitz is growing the wells and springs municipalities are producing a dwindling water supply christian muller head of maintenance department local utility accompanies klaus adset and michael belau to the last remaining well in the community climate change has had a particularly bad impact in the dry years 2013 2015 2018 2019 and 2020. a situation that no one here expected would escalate as dramatically as it has done.
I don't recall us ever having summers as dry as we have in the last 5 or 10 years and no one here can remember a summer without rain and with the last well now closed as well toy schnitz will have to look elsewhere for their water climate change it means our wells are no longer producing what we need, so we are now completely dependent on a remote water supply. You have noticed a big change in recent years. Yes, it has been brutal. I am afraid that one day the water will run out here. A community like Toy Schnitz no longer. has its own water supply because its wells have run dry shows how dramatic the situation has become and how advanced climate change is now and how this is something we will have to adapt to in the future one third of germany's drinking water already it is supplied for a long time Remote pipes from Mount House Dam, for example, seen here under construction in the 1970s.
Dam construction causes massive damage to nature, which is why they were frowned upon for so long , but now they are the backbone of the water supply in places like southern Germany. without long distance water supply big cities like nuhemberg or wutzburg could not survive it was surgery if not for the dam there is no way to guarantee water supply in this region many communities and water companies depend on the hydrant from home and on a long-distance supply because their own water sources cannot always meet the needs of people and industry. The water from the dam is fed through pipes to the regional water. the director of the association at the control center marcos rao shows us the full scope of the long-distance water network in bavaria global warming explains that it also presents a growing challenge for companies like yours it is addictive of maxim we had this fast sequence of maximum values ​​in 2018 2019 and 2020 maximum temperatures and low rainfall surprised us from here.
The company pumps water up to 140 kilometers without a long-distance supply. Large parts of Bavaria would already be dry. There are really major water companies in Germany that are already dry in terms of volume. at their limit and they say so openly, not in bavaria but in neighboring bottom rudenberg, for example, it is quite clear that no more important lines can be built at the moment, the remote water supplies give those affected a sense of security, but what if surface water is scarce? Also Professor Martin Gambo is a member of the German Federal and Regional Joint Task Force on Water Issues which has spent years studying the availability of the resource in the country 30 years ago no one believed that Northern Europe today could be facing a shortage of water anyway an occasional drought a painful admission but what does the future hold now we have reached a point where they are beginning to feel the impact of climate change and many other problems people are extremely concerned that the worst is yet to come coming in some parts of canada the rate at which water scarcity is increasing has been completely underestimated jay famiglietti is a hydrologist and executive director of the global institute for water security at the university of saskatchewan he has also been a key figure in a mission joint research project launched by nasa the united states space agency and its german counterpart what we see here here is an animation of how the grace mission works there are two small satellites each about a meter tall and about 200 kilometers apart they actually work like a ladder in the sky in that they respond to the mass of water on the ground when a region is losing water, it exerts a slightly less gravitational pull on the satellites and they float a little higher in their orbits, so by tracking the ups and downs of these satellites we can map the regions around the world that are gaining and losing mass of water and we've been doing this for 20 years now what might sound like science fiction is reality scientists have been recording massive water losses around the world they can forecast droughts and identify which regions are drying up even before the effects are tangible evidence the grace mission shows, for example, that the west coast of the US is drying up at an alarming rate and growing phoenix arizona a city built in the desert but with its abundance of green lawns artificial lakes and fountains there is no indication that water is in short supply here.
Phoenix is ​​the fastest growing city in the United States and home to a booming high-tech sector, making it a particularly important consumer. of water Phoenix's water comes from 450 kilometers away through a long-distance pipeline system that crosses the desert from Lake Powell, one of the two largest reservoirs in the US. In total, about 40 million people depend on this water, but the lake that is filled by the colorado river is at its lowest level, a development predicted by j familietti with the help of satellite data, so he was standing at the bottom of the new ramp to boats you can see it doesn't get there anymore just go up to where these orange barriers are so boats can't be put in the water here and if you take a look on google maps and my position right now you'll see it does just a few years would be underwater right now so this is where we are.
At one time, Lake Powell was filled to the brim as far as the eye could see. Originally, the reservoir was to protect the entire west coast from the threatof water scarcity. That was the plan. At least, we have this interest from the federal government. in expanding and forming states in the western part of the western part of the territories so they tasked John Wesley Powell to go out and explore the river and he came back with a recommendation that they know this is really a flop it's really very dry of course you know you could go big and really try something crazy and try to design the river and build giant reservoirs but I really don't recommend it I don't think it's sustainable long term and what does the government do decides to go for the big reservoirs and ironically they named the reservoir after Powell himself and that is what we know today as Lake Powell which for decades was considered a visionary idea for settlement and the future of the states of the western United States, has become its Achilles heel.
It worries me a lot and I think a lot of people do care a lot to see how much the level has gone down the last time I was here in the same place 30 31 32 years ago and um this wasn't a problem we weren't thinking about this then , we were starting to think about climate change there was no visible bathtub ring so here's what you know this is the future this is the future for the western united states the water will completely disappear it's just a matter of time the people here face a future with many unknown factors and also an immense challenge of lake powell the once mighty colorado river flows through the grand canyon towards the next desert metropolis las vegas america's sin city is famous for its Extravagant water shows, visitors enjoy spectacular fountains, man-made lakes and even a Venetian-style hotel complete with singing gondoliers in the middle of the Mojave desert Las Vegas draws the water you need from lake mead here too the water level is at its lowest in the history of the reservoir the largest in america this road was built as an extension of the boat ramp going down to lake mead jay famiglietti has come here to meet with scientist kristen averitt first climate policy coordinator for the state of nevada hey kristen good to see you oh gosh well here we are pretty awesome i know pretty awesome actually it's really me it's very sad, so I mean it's pretty apparent that you can see where the water used to be up there, where you've got this pretty awesome bathtub ring and you see it around the lake and we would have been, you know, hundreds of feet under water, TRUE?
Now, if the lake was really full, if we were where we are, I think it's also amazing to think about the fact that you know what this is going to keep going down. I know the odds of me being full again you're pretty much thin to none I mean this really is just climate change right in your face and it's uh it's pretty deep look and go out and see but you know that's the new reality that I know that I know and that's pretty scary right when you think about it, how could it come to this?
It is a desert landscape. You know you live in the desert. The thing is, everyone in the western US has to act like they live in the middle. I know we see it everywhere. you're in phoenix and you know what it's like there I mean lots of green grass and golf courses and the sprinklers that shoot big arcs into the air at noon exactly to the right. I mean that's it. careful conservation and probably some new ideas about water management a daunting challenge in terms of scale and complexity and the odds that everything is getting drier and drier and we need more and more water demand for water increases and then the other problem it's the supply I mean if climate change and fixing it was easy we would have done it by now it's crazy we're in a decades long drought a mega drought here in the Southwest 19 20 years of drought is what we've been experiencing you know and drought I always think about that as kind of a temporary situation this really isn't just a drought this is a ritification this is a permanent state moving forward for this part of the world to maintain its tourism industry buoyant las vegas still gives the impression of a city ​​with a lot of water it seems can be deceiving we are really in a situation where we really need to make sure everyone conserves every drop of water possible and for Las Vegas residents years or decades of drought will force them to change their lifestyle.
Twenty years ago, in southern Nevada, we had a lot of grass. They all had grass in their front yards. one of those programs was an incentive program where we pay people to take out the grass and replace it with drip irrigated landscaping and what it has done is it has reduced our community's consumption of the colorado river by 23 since 2002, but our community has grown by almost 800,000 people in that same time, so we are serving more people with less water today, and we still have more conservation gains to make to realize those gains than city officials ar Now I turn to more aggressive solutions, such as a 24-hour water patrol.
Special researchers ensure compliance with strict water use regulations. I work for the water waste control team for the Las Vegas Valley Water District. basically driving around las vegas city and basically finding water waste violations um those can range from anything to watering on an unassigned day uh any kind of malfunction when your equipment runs into a violation like in this case they issue a ticket so how it works is different types of violations can happen um so this was a weekday violation so this is one of the properties they water on a non day assigned, the city of las vegas is divided into six separate groups, right, as of now? a c and e waters monday wednesday friday bdnf waters tues thursday and saturday ornamental grass won't be banned until 2023 but most front yards and gardens have already been turned to gravel beds I feel there is a purpose to what I do and I love it living in las vegas i love my community and i feel like what i do helps all of us who live here so yeah i really enjoy doing that yeah it sounds like that. must be very rewarding it is very very good but regional approaches like water patrol teams in las vegas are not really a solution to the problem they are more of a drop in the ocean it is crazy from a resource availability perspective than we've got these mega cities in the desert i don't know i think we probably pride ourselves on human ingenuity yes we can do it we can take advantage of the water from the colorado river so a lot of the growth happened without knowledge of climate change and imperfect knowledge about water availability, for what really hard times are ahead for our desert cities and let's face it water is the lifeblood of these cities so I am really concerned about their existence and as long as the water levels in most of the reservoirs that serve the west of the country have decreased alarmingly in recent years.
Another invisible development is also emerging. What we do not see is what is happening under the ground and that is the disappearance of groundwater. in lake powell is disappearing, so what does data from nasa satellites tell us about the state of surface and groundwater in california? east valley is the world home of technological innovation technology is incredibly water intensive and this region is running out of water san francisco one of the world's leading financial centers and the gateway to silicon valley agua de valle is the company of Silicon Valley's major water is today opening a new purification facility and this purification facility would allow valley ey water to provide at least 10 million gallons per day a high-tech response to a ridification but it will be enough to quench the thirst of the region the water provider is putting their faith in innovation my name is gary creman i am an elected board member at valley water and i am on the valley water board because i wanted to do some public service after a career in technology a lot of people i you know why i invented online dating i started well i actually want to mix online dating into water conservation to help people save water by finding the nearest person to shower with board member receives an on-the-ground update from colleague chris hanks on the situation at anderson reservoir silicon's largest reservoir valley this overall community actually, it's all served through groundwater recharge by anderson reservoir, has a capacity of about ninety thousand acre-feet, which is enough to serve about nine hundred thousand one million residents of santa clara c county for about a year right now its down to 3,000 acre feet its extremely low and thats a critical time in our water supply we are looking at extreme drought right now the situation is more critical than ever so we're in a really interesting situation here we have some of the biggest companies in the world like google and apple all based here we have a population ba dense shelf of two million people and what unites them and what they all need is water but unfortunately we have to import our water from hundreds of miles away because we already use all our local water, we have always had to import water, okay, the problem we have is there is no water to import anymore the state of california and the federal government where we would get it from are giving us zero so there is a real chance that all we will get is safe healthy water which is a minimum amount of water for drinking and showering and that's it, but what if the water really runs out and there it is? it's not enough anymore for the people who live and work here there's a quote about whiskeys to drink but waters to fight over i think we're going to have epic fights here some kind of internal civil war over water i don't mean it's threatening because i don't want to people panic, but I would panic. wake-up call, you know, I hate to say it not to say that people have realized what are those risks that are still happening the crisis points of the future that he believes will be caused by the changing weather conditions of the For the last six thousand years humans on planet earth have lived in a relatively narrow band of environmental conditions, climate change is changing where those bands exist, it's pushing them north and south, but there's more land to the north, so what we can expect as a r The result is that human populations over a period of time will move with those bands just as they always have Kabul capital of Afghanistan a country with a long history of fighting aridity and in recent years the situation has become more dire with another prolonged drought water now only flows from the taps in the wealthier parts of the city a precious luxury for the precious few and a luxury made possible e thanks to the water pumps in one of the suburbs of the city built with the help of technology and funding from germany water is a major problem many wells and springs have lower water levels used to provide 20-30 000 cubic meters today produces between 14 and 16,000. 20,000 maximum in any case the drought has meant that our production has decreased by 50 percent eh ensuring that water flows through those taps in the center of Kabul means extracting water underground of a poor district.
The locals themselves have literally run dry. This is a very dry region and when there is no water, we give our children boats to draw water from below up to three boats per child at the moment there is no water in all the areas that are further down they have wells but now they have also dried up in on good days the children are sent to the city to fetch water on bad days there is no water at all the problem in this region is that people do not have access to clean water that is the reason why last week, for example 60 percent of the population suffered from diarrhea related illnesses ahmed khan has been waiting days for water to be available again we have many problems to deal with but the shortage of drinking water is particularly severe , we only get tap water every 12 or 13 days and even then for no more than an hour or an hour and half the time there is nothing so I have to come here to fetch some myself there just isn't enough water for me. this region how many people will fight for their water and how many will just move on people are already migrating now as a result of climate change they are migrating to the usa they are migrating from north africa they are migrating to europe we see that change by 2070 up to 3 billion of people could be found living outside this ideal environment band suggesting a large global migration likely to move mainly north of large numbers of people when water supplies are insufficientpeople are moving to where there is water all over the world and neither border fences nor open seas can stop people in desperate need either glick of the california-based pacific institute has been studying the historical background of conflicts and wars resulting from water scarcity there is a long history of conflicts over water resources one of the things we do at the pacific institute is maintain something called the water conflict timeline it is a database of conflicts over violence of water dating back more than 4,000 years to ancient Mesopotamia, but it is also true that in recent years the number and types of conflicts over water have grown enormously in recent memory, water scarcity was also one of the the factors that triggered the conflict in syria where a devastating drought led to rising grain prices the result of war and widespread destruction and there were experts warning of precisely such conflicts as j familiati we did a lot of work um in the united states uh at the federal level trying to raise awareness about what we saw before publishing we published an article about this region in 2013 we started messaging around 2009 before the arab spring before the syrian riots we didn't get much attention the grace mission scientists also raised the alarm in 2009 they told congress they made a presentation at the white house and sent their data to the defense officials in the pentagon and how his warnings were received is incredibly frustrating as a scientist doing this work in the first place, so it's hard to handle ep at night when you look at this kind of work and understand what it means and what the future holds um and it's hard for someone like me who goes the extra mile to try to make communication and then turns exceptionally frustrating when you have the opportunity to have a hearing in a place like the pentagon or these high level congressional committees but essentially get fired or ignored but the institute is still fighting and for this


jay familietti looked at the data from the NASA missions to Germany with amazing results we take a look at some of our most recent data and look at a little bit higher resolution over Germany and what we see is there's a pretty strong signal for the disappearance of water this has been happening over two decades from 2002 to the present it's quite worrying to see all this red, in fact we can take this map and average it and do an analysis on it and actually calculate the general trend of how much water Germany is losing in In reality, water disappears at a rate of 2.4 cubic kilometers per year, which means that in 20 years Germany has lost the volume of the boden. see the findings of the nasa mission had not yet been made public in germany here the bavarian environment minister and a professor from the federal and state working group on water were looking at the data for the first time unfortunately all this data is currently not published support the picture that ultimately we have a systemic deficit and what is particularly problematic is that for a long time everything seems fine, but when the changes finally become tangible, it is already too late and that is why we get so concerned when graphs like these confirm what our ground measurements show but a lot of people don't understand and say the water is still flowing then I tell them I can see the future and unless we take action at some point the water it will stop flowing, but then it will be too late, it is important that everyone understands that the water situation is of the first importance every government is tal needs to emphasize the water challenge in his agenda if i look at the first five issues water has to be in the top five once the policy is dictated by the water fight then god help us jay familiati's journey through the The western United States is coming to an end its last stop the sultan sea california's largest freshwater lake has been drying up for decades, this former vacation paradise has become a vivid warning of what water scarcity awaits soon it might mean to us when i walk by this place.
It really saddens me to see the degradation. running out of water there is no way to survive is this our future i think we really need to stand up and take notice this could happen anywhere water is essential to life if we don't have it this could be our future i think this is a must view visualization for our elected officials for our decision makers need to know that in many parts of the world this is the trajectory we are following

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