Special Issue "Water Security"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Water Use and Scarcity".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (29 February 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Robert Patrick
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Geography and Planning, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon SK, S7N 5C8 Canada
Interests: watershed planning; source water protection; Indigenous People
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Water is fundamental to human life, in fact, for many people, water is life.  The security of water supply (quantity) and water quality is a fundamental determinant of human health and survival. Water security also influences economic development, social and political organization, and human settlement patterns. The concept of water security continues to gain momentum in the academic literature, largely as a result of its multi-scale utility. At a household scale, for example, there is growing literature on water entitlements, human capability, and socio-cultural dynamics. At a global scale, water security occupies literature on human access to safe water and sanitation. Between these scales, water security offers rich literature on regional flooding and drought frequency, governance struggles, inter-basin water transfers, and regional water shortages. Overall, water security (and insecurity) is a multi-scalar, highly mobile concept positioned in both the physical and social sciences. In this Special Edition of Water, we seek to amass papers that express the diversity and full breadth of water security, embracing both pragmatic and critical perspectives.

Prof. Dr. Robert Patrick
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Water security
  • Environmental justice
  • Drinkable water
  • Water insecurity
  • Human health

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Article
Indigenous Perspectives on Water Security in Saskatchewan, Canada
Water 2020, 12(3), 810; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12030810 - 14 Mar 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1623
Abstract
The term “water security” continues to gain traction in water resources literature with broad application to human health, water quality, and sustainability of water supply. These western science applications focus almost exclusively on the material value of water for human uses and activities. [...] Read more.
The term “water security” continues to gain traction in water resources literature with broad application to human health, water quality, and sustainability of water supply. These western science applications focus almost exclusively on the material value of water for human uses and activities. This paper offers voice to other interpretations of water security based on semi-structured interviews with Indigenous participants representing varied backgrounds and communities from Saskatchewan, a Canadian prairie province. The results indicate that water security from an Indigenous perspective embraces much more than the material value of water. Five themes emerged from this research that speak to a more holistic framing of water security to include water as a life form, water and the spirit world, women as water-keepers, water and human ethics, and water in Indigenous culture. This broader interpretation provides a more nuanced understanding of water security, which serves to enrich the water security narrative while educating western science. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Security)
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Article
Scarcity Amidst Plenty: Lower Himalayan Cities Struggling for Water Security
Water 2020, 12(2), 567; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12020567 - 19 Feb 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1580
Abstract
In recent years, growing water insecurity in the Himalayan region has attracted new scientific research and fresh attention on policy. In this paper, we synthesize field research evidence from a sample of five Himalayan cities—three in Nepal and two in the western Indian [...] Read more.
In recent years, growing water insecurity in the Himalayan region has attracted new scientific research and fresh attention on policy. In this paper, we synthesize field research evidence from a sample of five Himalayan cities—three in Nepal and two in the western Indian Himalayas—on various forms of water insecurity and cities’ responses to such challenges. We gathered evidence from a field research conducted in these cities between 2014 and 2018. We show how different types of Himalayan towns (mainly hilltop, foot hill, river side, touristic, and regional trading hub) are struggling to secure water for their residents and tourists, as well as for the wider urban economy. We found that even though the region receives significant amounts of precipitation in the form of snow and rainfall, it is facing increasing levels of water insecurity. Four of the five towns we studied are struggling to develop well-performing local institutions to manage water supply. Worse still, none of the cities have a robust system of water planning and governance to tackle the water challenges emerging from rapid urbanization and climate change. In the absence of a coordinated water planning agency, a complex mix of government, community, and private systems of water supply has emerged in the Himalayan towns across both Nepal and India. There is clearly a need for strengthening local governance capacity as well as down-scaling climate science to inform water planning at the city level. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Security)
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Article
A Comprehensive Index for Measuring Water Security in an Urbanizing World: The Case of Pakistan’s Capital
Water 2020, 12(1), 166; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12010166 - 06 Jan 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1426
Abstract
Growing population, increasing urbanization, and rural to urban migration, coupled with the ongoing climate change, threaten the sustainability of cities, particularly in developing countries. Previous studies indicate numerous deficiencies in the water supply and sewage systems of Islamabad; however, a comprehensive insight into [...] Read more.
Growing population, increasing urbanization, and rural to urban migration, coupled with the ongoing climate change, threaten the sustainability of cities, particularly in developing countries. Previous studies indicate numerous deficiencies in the water supply and sewage systems of Islamabad; however, a comprehensive insight into the water security assessment has not been carried out. Therefore, this study is aimed at assessing the urban water security of Islamabad by taking both human and environmental aspects into consideration. In principle, we achieve this objective by implementing the Water Security Assessment Framework, using five distinct parameters to calculate an urban water security index. The water supply dimension incorporates availability, accessibility, affordability, and the quality of drinking water in the city, whereas, sanitation and health dimension measures access to improved drainage systems as well as the state of overall hygiene of the city inhabitants. Furthermore, the water economy dimension includes water productivity and investment aspects in the study area, while the environment and ecosystem dimension looks into the current state of natural water bodies. Similarly, overall management and public support for freshwater resources are measured in the society and governance dimension. In general, we attempt to better comprehend water-security nexus in the federal capital considering it as a prerequisite to ensure a sustainable future for the city dwellers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Security)
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Article
Gendered Water Insecurity: A Structural Equation Approach for Female Headed Households in South Africa
Water 2019, 11(12), 2491; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11122491 - 26 Nov 2019
Viewed by 1327
Abstract
Intricacies between women and water are central to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Gender equality and women empowerment is a key driver in ending hunger and poverty as well as improve water security the study sought to identify and provide pathways [...] Read more.
Intricacies between women and water are central to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Gender equality and women empowerment is a key driver in ending hunger and poverty as well as improve water security the study sought to identify and provide pathways through which female-headed households were water insecure in South Africa. Secondary data collected during the 2016 General Household Survey (GHS) was utilised, with a sample of 5928 female-headed households. Principal Component Analysis and Structural Equation Modelling were used to analyse the data. The results show dynamic relationships between water characteristics and water treatment. There were also associations between water access and wealth status of the female-headed households. Association was also found between water access and water treatment as well as between wealth status and water treatment. The study concludes that there are dynamic relationships in water insecurity (exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity) for female-headed households in South Africa. The study recommends that a multi-prong approach is required in tackling exposures, sensitivities and adaptive capacities to water insecurity. This should include capacity–building and empowering women for wealth generation, improve access to water treatment equipment as well as prioritising improvement of infrastructure that brings piped and safe water to female-headed households. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Security)
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Article
Does Engagement Build Empathy for Shared Water Resources? Results from the Use of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index during a Mobile Water Allocation Experimental Decision Laboratory
Water 2019, 11(6), 1259; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11061259 - 16 Jun 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1121
Abstract
Currently, there are no tools that measure improvements in levels of empathy among diverse water stakeholders participating in transboundary decision-making. In this study, we used an existing empathy scale from clinical psychology during an Experimental Decision Laboratory (EDL) where participants allocated water across [...] Read more.
Currently, there are no tools that measure improvements in levels of empathy among diverse water stakeholders participating in transboundary decision-making. In this study, we used an existing empathy scale from clinical psychology during an Experimental Decision Laboratory (EDL) where participants allocated water across a transboundary basin during minor and major drought conditions. We measured changes in empathy using a pre-test/post-test design and triangulated quantitative results with open-ended survey questions. Results were counter-intuitive. For most participants, levels of the four components of empathy decreased after participating in the EDL; however, significant demographically-driven differences emerged. Qualitative results confounded the problem through the capture of participant perceptions of increased overall empathy and perspective taking specifically. Implications for methodological tool development, as well as practice for water managers and researchers are discussed. Water empathy is a particularly sensitive construct that requires specialized intervention and measurement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Security)
Article
Reclaiming Indigenous Planning as a Pathway to Local Water Security
Water 2019, 11(5), 936; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11050936 - 03 May 2019
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2136
Abstract
Access to drinkable water is essential to human life. The consequence of unsafe drinking water can be damaging to communities and catastrophic to human health. Today, one in five First Nation communities in Canada is on a boil water advisory, with some advisories [...] Read more.
Access to drinkable water is essential to human life. The consequence of unsafe drinking water can be damaging to communities and catastrophic to human health. Today, one in five First Nation communities in Canada is on a boil water advisory, with some advisories lasting over 10 years. Factors contributing to this problem stretch back to colonial structures and institutional arrangement that reproduce woefully inadequate community drinking water systems. Notwithstanding these challenges, First Nation communities remain diligent, adaptive, and innovative in their efforts to provide drinkable water to their community members. One example is through the practice of source water protection planning. Source water is untreated water from groundwater or surface water that supplies drinking water for human consumption. Source water protection is operationalized through land and water planning activities aimed at reducing the risk of contamination from entering a public drinking water supply. Here, we introduce a source water protection planning process at Muskowekwan First Nation, Treaty 4, Saskatchewan. The planning process followed a community-based participatory approach guided by trust, respect, and reciprocity between community members and university researchers. Community members identified threats to the drinking water source followed by restorative land management actions to reduce those threats. The result of this process produced much more than a planning document but engaged multiple community members in a process of empowerment and self-determination. The process of plan-making produced many unintended results including human–land connectivity, reconnection with the water spirit, as well as the reclaiming of indigenous planning. Source water protection planning may not correct all the current water system inadequacies that exist on many First Nations, but it will empower communities to take action to protect their drinking water sources for future generations as a pathway to local water security. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Security)
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Article
Water Security Assessment of China’s One Belt and One Road Region
Water 2019, 11(3), 607; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11030607 - 23 Mar 2019
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 1902
Abstract
The sustainable development of socioeconomic and environmental systems are highly dependent on water capital and water utilization efficiency. Nowadays, a significant portion of the world is facing water security issues due to a combination of various factors. As a result, socioeconomic and environmental [...] Read more.
The sustainable development of socioeconomic and environmental systems are highly dependent on water capital and water utilization efficiency. Nowadays, a significant portion of the world is facing water security issues due to a combination of various factors. As a result, socioeconomic and environmental systems are threatened. China is also currently experiencing problems. Water security assessment helps to identify key determining factors for optimal water utilization, so the authors present the Driving Forces-Pressures-Carrying Capacity-State-Impacts-Responses (DPSCIR) water security assessment framework. Unlike previous methods, the proposed framework incorporates the carrying capacity of the environment, and as a result, yields assessment results that are more realistic. As a case study, the proposed framework coupled with the entropy method is applied to assess the water security status of the One Belt and One Road (B&R) region in China. In addition, the water security level of the provinces and municipalities in this region are simulated for the time period from 2017 to 2022 using the Grey Prediction Model. The results show that Responses, State, Pressures, and Carrying Capacity Subsystems greatly influence water security of the region. According to the assessment, water security of the area improved from 2011 to 2016. The results portray the following trend among the three subregions of the study area, the water security of the 21st Maritime Silk Road (One Road) area is better than Silk Road Economic Belt (One Belt) and the Strategy Support and Pivotal Gateway (SSPG) of B&R areas. Generally, from the evaluation results it can be concluded that only focusing on the subsystem of Responses cannot entirely address the water security problems within the B&R area. Therefore, to ensure sustainable water security in the region and in the country, the government needs to design water resource management mechanisms that take all the subsystems into account. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Security)
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Review

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Review
Double Exposures: Future Water Security across Urban Southeast Asia
Water 2020, 12(1), 116; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12010116 - 30 Dec 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1152
Abstract
Southeast Asia is one of the most dynamic regions in the world in terms of economic growth and urbanization. At the same time, the region is also prone to multiple hydro-meteorological disasters, which are projected to be intensified by climate change. This paper [...] Read more.
Southeast Asia is one of the most dynamic regions in the world in terms of economic growth and urbanization. At the same time, the region is also prone to multiple hydro-meteorological disasters, which are projected to be intensified by climate change. This paper analyzes the combined effect of economic development and climate change on the future water security of middle-income Southeast Asian countries using the double exposure framework, focusing on the effects in urban areas. A review of the existing literature reveals unequal water security outcomes across the region as a result of combined climate, economic, and urbanization pressures. The water supply and sanitation infrastructure of upper-middle-income Southeast Asian countries are vulnerable to damage from intensified disasters, potentially decreasing both immediate and longer-term water quality. In lower-middle-income countries, the water quality will be the more important water security challenge in the short-term as opposed to water quantity, mainly due to the fast growth of industries. Lower-middle-income countries, though less vulnerable to disasters, will still have lower future water security compared to upper-middle-income countries, as they have less capacity to address water quality and quantity challenges brought about by both industrial growth and urbanization. Across the region, future water quantity and quality challenges may result in slower economic and urban growth if not planned adequately. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Security)

Other

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Case Report
Scarcity of Drinking Water in Taihu Lake Basin, China: A Case Study of Yixing City
Water 2019, 11(2), 362; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11020362 - 20 Feb 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1741
Abstract
Water use has been growing globally at more than twice the rate of the population increase over the last century. Water scarcity is one of the main problems facing the world, especially the scarcity of clean and safe drinking water. Scarcity of drinking [...] Read more.
Water use has been growing globally at more than twice the rate of the population increase over the last century. Water scarcity is one of the main problems facing the world, especially the scarcity of clean and safe drinking water. Scarcity of drinking water is not only relevant in arid or semiarid regions, but also occurs in water-rich regions due to the decline in water quantity caused by pollution or salinity intrusion. As a part of Taihu Lake Basin, a famous water-rich region in China, Yixing City has a total area of 1996.6 km2, including 242.29 km2 from Taihu Lake, 215 rivers with an area of 130 km2, more than 20 ponds with an area of 0.05 km2, and 20 reservoirs with a total capacity of 126 million m3. There always has enough water in Yixing City. However, meteorological conditions and water quality both affect the available drinking water sources. Poor-quality water was used as a drinking water source in Yixing City during a drought event in 2011. Approximately 1.4 × 107 m3 of poor-quality water was used for drinking water in Yixing city, providing 37.13% of the total drinking water. It was a source of concern that the water quality was too poor to be used as drinking water and that the water treatment processes were expensive. The scarcity of drinking water has become a serious issue, not only in arid and semiarid regions but also in water towns such as Taihu Lake Basin, and this issue requires society’s attention. Many measures should be taken to relieve the drinking water shortage, such as seeking new drinking water sources, protecting the current water source areas, controlling pollution emissions, and implementing effective water resource management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Security)
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