Cities need $9.5bn to ensure water security

Cities globally are looking for $9.5bn to invest in water supply projects, a study has found.

Growing urban populations and climate change are making both cities and businesses more aware of the risks posed by water shortages, poor water quality and flooding.

The CDP, an environmental non-profit, found more than half (62%) of cities are working with the private sector to improve their water security, but that many were still looking for investment. It identified 89 active water management projects in 80 countries seeking investors.

Morgan Gillespy, head of CDP’s water program said: “Our report shows just how crucial water management is becoming to our cities. We are seeing critical shifts in leadership from cities and companies in response to the very real threat of flooding, for example, to local economies.

“Combined with innovation and financial capital, this puts the tipping point for a sustainable economy in reach, and this data shows how important investors are in making this happen.”

CDP, in partnership with AECOM and Bloomberg Philanthropies, surveyed 569 cities and 1,432 companies.

It found 63% of cities recognised water supply as a risk, with the Asia-Oceania region reporting the highest. More than four fifths (84%) of cities in this region said they were concerned about water supply, followed closely by Africa (80%) and Latin America (75%).

Companies also disclosed water related impacts – such as loss of production – cost $14bn in 2016.

Top water risks included declining quality (132 cities reported this as a risk), increasing scarcity (196 cities) and flooding (103 cities). These risks are being exacerbated by a rising urban population, reduced supply and increased demand from the manufacturing and energy sectors, CDP said. The UN predicts a 40% shortfall in global water supply by 2030 while urban populations are predicted to grow by 2.5bn by 2050.

Without action CDP predicts London will have a deficit of 520m litres a day by 2050, caused by its swelling population.

The devastating flood that hit Houston this week has highlighted the importance of managing water risk. As well as killing at least 18, the flood has also closed down a key port on the Gulf of Mexico and caused supply wider supply chain disruptions.

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