Thirty-nine percent of water executives say demand is “highly likely” to outstrip water supply by 2030, while 54 percent say such a risk is moderately likely, according to research released today by Oracle Utilities.
Water for All?, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, surveyed 244 senior water utility executives across 10 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, India, Russia, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
According to the report, 45 percent of water executives say “wasteful” consumer behavior is the biggest barrier to meeting future water demands. Another 33 percent say tariffs are too low to stimulate greater investment.
In developing countries, a lack of capital for investment tops the list (41 percent) of barriers, while worries over climate change stand third overall (34 percent).
Almost half of respondents (49 percent) say pricing structures need to be changed to encourage conservation, while 38 percent say water prices must be held down to ensure fair access.
Almost all (93 percent) water executives say they are increasing investment to meet supply challenges, with 22 percent increasing investment by 15 percent or more within the next three years.
The report credits technologies such as smart meters and desalination with making the water sector more innovative, and says one fifth of water utilities in developed markets regularly evaluate new technologies, compared to a third in developing countries. It says more water utilities must improve their ability to identify and implement such technologies — 36 percent remain unaware of innovation options available, according to Oracle.
Respondents say drought and increased water pollution are the biggest risks faced by water utilities, and are considered the most likely to occur.
Half of executives say they lack support and information from government bodies, and 43 percent say they must shift water management techniques based on future water availability.
Last month, the Coca-Cola Company partnered with Deka Research & Development Corporation on plans to deliver millions of liters of clean drinking water to schools, health clinics and community centers in rural regions of Africa and Latin America in 2013.
According to Ceres, 27 percent of companies made the connection between climate change and water risk in 2011, up from 10 percent in 2009.