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Contact a Customer Care Representative

We’ll get back to you within 24 hours or the following business day.

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Customer Care representatives are available by phone Monday–Friday, from 9am–5pm CST.

For sales & general inquiries
Municipal Water solutions: (800) 616–3837
Commercial & Industrial solutions: (877) 243–1010
Wyco Concrete solutions: (800) 233-9926
Telog: 888‑835‑6437 (Press #1)

For product support
Municipal Water solutions: (800) 616–3837
Commercial & Industrial solutions: (877) 243–1010
Wyco Concrete solutions: (877) 243–1010
Telog: 888‑835‑6437 (Press #2)

We're here to help
Contact a Customer Care Representative

We’ll get back to you within 24 hours or the following business day.

Prefer to call?
Customer Care representatives are available by phone Monday–Friday, from 9am–5pm CST.

For sales & general inquiries
Municipal Water solutions: (800) 616–3837
Commercial & Industrial solutions: (877) 243–1010
Wyco Concrete solutions: (800) 233-9926
Telog: 888‑835‑6437 (Press #1)

For product support
Municipal Water solutions: (800) 616–3837
Commercial & Industrial solutions: (877) 243–1010
Wyco Concrete solutions: (877) 243–1010
Telog: 888‑835‑6437 (Press #2)

April 24, 2023

Water Scarcity and Water Stress: Understanding Problems and Identifying Solutions

Water scarcity and water stress pose difficult challenges, but there are strategies and technologies that can help. With the right tools in place, water utilities can begin to make both long- and short-term plans to conserve water and ensure a more sustainable water future.

What's the Difference?

We often hear the terms water scarcity and water stress used to describe situations where water availability is compromised. While the two terms sound similar, they’re not interchangeable. The first step towards a more sustainable, resilient water distribution system is understanding the distinctions and similarities.

  • Water scarcity describes the condition of not having enough water to sustain a population. Several regions in the U.S.—including the West Coast, parts of the Midwest and areas in the Southwest—are experiencing water scarcity. In some cases, water scarcity is the result of the demand for water exceeding the available supply (e.g., due to population growth). In other cases, it's because once-reliable water sources have been depleted over time (e.g., impacts on the Colorado River from prolonged drought).
  • Water stress takes into consideration not only water availability but also broader parameters, such as water quality. For example, in Flint, Michigan, water was abundant but poor infrastructure rendered it undrinkable, leading to severe water stress in the city.

What Can Be Done?

There are many factors to consider when addressing the impacts of water scarcity or water stress—but often, the same solutions can be applied to both.

Let’s explore some of the long- and short-term solutions:

Water Conservation

As a long-term strategy, water conservation is a good place to begin—but it's only part of the answer. How water is allocated plays an important role in the effectiveness of a water conservation program. For instance, approximately 70% of the water withdrawn from Lake Mead is used for agricultural irrigation. This leaves only 30% for public supply. Even if every citizen conserved 10% of their water, the total impact would only be a 3% reduction in usage. Regardless, every utility should include water conservation as a component of a sustainable approach to water management.

Water Reuse

Water reuse is another long-term solution that can help reduce dependence on freshwater sources. Advanced treatment technologies can provide access to otherwise unusable sources, like wastewater, for both direct and indirect potable use.

Desalination

In the U.S., about 40% of the population live within 100 miles of an ocean, which makes seawater an easily accessible resource. Desalination, or removing the salt and contaminants from seawater, is a solution—but it’s an expensive one, so the cost-benefit must be carefully weighed.

Smart Water Systems

In the short term, utilities serving communities impacted by water scarcity or water stress can realize quick returns by maximizing the efficiency of their water distribution systems. With visibility into every aspect of the system—including flow rates, pressure and, in some cases, temperature—utilities have actionable data for assessing, analyzing and monitoring water across their distribution networks.

By collecting timebound measurements from accurate instrumentation, utilities can gather repeatable and relatable data that allows them to analyze their distribution systems and translate these numbers into actions. Utilities can quickly react to problems like leaks, pipe bursts, storage depletion and pressure loss—and, more importantly, proactively spot trouble before it occurs.

Smart water systems give utility personnel the tools to set conservation goals, track results and evaluate successes and failures, moving their utilities one step closer to their ultimate goals of improving resiliency, conserving water resources and protecting water quality.

What’s more, utilities can take advantage of user-friendly, consumer-facing portals that smart water systems provide to make it easy for customers to curb their own water usage. Informed by the extensive data collected from the distribution network, customers can view and track their consumption and make real-time decisions about how to reduce it.

A More Sustainable Future

Water scarcity and water stress pose difficult challenges, but there are strategies and technologies that can help. With the right tools in place, water utilities can begin to make both long- and short-term plans to conserve water and start the journey toward a more sustainable water future.

Learn More

We're here to help
Contact a Customer Care Representative

We’ll get back to you within 24 hours or the following business day.

Prefer to call?
Customer Care representatives are available by phone Monday–Friday, from 9am–5pm CST.

For sales & general inquiries
Municipal Water solutions: (800) 616–3837
Commercial & Industrial solutions: (877) 243–1010
Wyco Concrete solutions: (800) 233-9926
Telog: 888‑835‑6437 (Press #1)

For product support
Municipal Water solutions: (800) 616–3837
Commercial & Industrial solutions: (877) 243–1010
Wyco Concrete solutions: (877) 243–1010
Telog: 888‑835‑6437 (Press #2)