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7. Conclusions on water resources

    A number of key messages emerge from the foregoing discussion of water resources. Demand for these limited resources continues to increase as populations grow and move. Sound management depends on reliable information about the quantity and quality of water available and how this availability varies in time and from place to place. It is important to enhance the understanding of all elements of the water cycle and how human activities affect it, so that water resources can be protected and developed sustainably.

    • Climate change greatly affects weather, precipitation, and the entire water cycle, including water resources both above and below ground.
    • The growing problem of surface water availability and the increasing levels of water pollution and water diversions threaten to hamper or even disrupt social and economic development in many areas, as well as the health of ecosystems.
    • Groundwater resources can help meet demand, but too much of it is being withdrawn and some of it is being polluted. It is important to better control the use of underground water that will not be replenished.
    • Longstanding practices, such as collecting rainwater, are being refined and supplemented by newer techniques such as artificial recharge, desalination and re-use. More support is needed, not only for innovative technical solutions to improve supplies, but also for the management of demand and the promotion of efficiency in water use.
    • Growing changes in the availability of water resources will require political support for the collection of information on water resources. That information will allow policy-makers to make better decisions about the management and use of water.