Water: A Perspective on Global Issues and Politics

by Asit K. Biswas, (M.ASCE), Sr. Research Scientist; International Inst. for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria; Dir., Biswas & Assocs., Ottawa, Canada; Pres., International Society for Ecological Modeling, Copenhagen, Denmark; Vice Pres., International Water Resources Assoc., Washington, D.C.,

Serial Information: Journal of the Water Resources Planning and Management Division, 1979, Vol. 105, Issue 2, Pg. 205-222

Document Type: Journal Paper


The uneven distribution of water in the world is reviewed. Development of water quality problems is traced. The policy options for sectoral uses, especially in terms of rural and urban water supply, agriculture, industry, and hydroelectric power are outlined. The present status of water development in these four sectors is provided on a regional basis for the whole world, and in certain cases national information is also given. Lack of water development in developing countries is emphasized, and possible investment costs are indicated. Social and environmental impacts of water development projects are discussed in detail under three categories of sub-systems: physical, biological and human. It is concluded that the major problem is not one of the Malthusian specter of impending scarcity but one of instituting more rational management practices. Time has come to shift emphasis to comprehensive land and water planning, treating land and water as an integrated and interacting unit.

Subject Headings: Hydro power | Water policy | Political factors | Water quality | Municipal water | Soil treatment | Land use | Rural areas

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