Study Guide

Sustainable Water

What is Sustainable Development?


Key questions that will be answered…..


What physical factors determine the supply of water?

·        How does the climate of an area influence the amount of water availability? (Precipitation, temperature, seasonality)

·        How does the relief of an area influence the water supply? (mountains are good locations for reservoirs – Elan Valley)

·        How does the geology of an area influence the supply of water? (permeable rocks make good aquifers – SE England; impermeable ones hold water in surface storage)

·        Use these three factors to explain water supply in the UK?


How do human activities influence water supply and demand?

·        How do demographic factors influence demand and supply of water? (number of people, urban vs rural populations)

·        How do social factors influence water supply and demand? (Domestic use, health, sanitation)

·        How do economic factors influence the demand and supply of water? (industry, energy production, agriculture, technology)

·        Explain why different competing uses have different demands on water supply.


How can the water supply and demand be sustainably managed?

·        What are the impacts of increasing water supply by implementing new storage capacity? (the impacts of dams and reservoirs – Itaipu Dam, Brazil;  Three Gorges, China)

·        How are water transfer systems used to balance the spatial mismatch between supply and demand for water in the UK? (Elan ValleyBirmingham, Severn – Thames basin transfer)

·        Are groundwater sources (aquifers) being used sustainably? (London, Israel/Palestine)

·        Explain the costs and benefits of desalination, recycling of water and the use of grey water.  Do these techniques meet the terms of sustainability? (Economy, environment, society, futurity)

·        How can the consumption of water be reduced? (domestic use, regulation, hose-pipe bans, GM foods, improved technology)


Can a sustainable water supplies be maintained in the future?

·        How sustainable is energy supply and demand in the UK?

·        Which is a more sustainable approach to meeting water supply needs – surface water or groundwater?

·        Evaluate the sustainability of the different methods of water supply.  Which options meet the terms of economic, environmental, social and political sustainability?

·        Can consumption of water reduced even though the population of the world is predicted to rise to 9 billion by 2050?


Some key terms you should be familiar with…..


Sustainable development                Water Supply             Aquifers          Dams and reservoirs

Inter-basin transfer     Itaipu Dam    Three Gorges Dam   Grey Water    Desalination

Futurity            Social Justice            Spatial / Temporal mismatch           Permeable/impermeable