Water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century. Despite such rapid growth, about 900 million people still do not have access to improved drinking water sources and another 2.5 billion people do not have access to improved sanitation.
The management of water resources has several cascading impacts on the performance of on society as a whole and also on valuable ecosystems; more so, on the economy, particularly on energy, industry, domestic water supply and sanitation, food production and security, health.
‘Without improved water resources management, the progress towards poverty reduction targets, the Millennium Development Goals, and sustainable development in all its economic, social and environmental dimensions, will be jeopardized‘ (UN Water n.d).
Research indicates that proper water resource management could increase gross domestic product by 5 to 14 percent.
While great emphasis has been placed on the supply of water for consumptive and non-consumptive uses, not enough has been done to manage the demand side of the equation.
Take for instance the case of Non-Revenue Water (NRW) where millions of cubic litres of clean potable water are lost daily due to leakages from aging infrastructure and under-investment in replacement and renewal of pipes within cities. This NRW is valued to be over $18 billion per year worldwide.
Given that the global demand on water resources is set to increase exponentially due to rising incomes and changing diets.