Washington — Whether monitoring the flow of the Yangtze River in China, assessing available water in Kabul, or predicting the possibilities for flood and drought in Saudi Arabia, scientists of the U.S Geological Survey are working in many ways and in many places to ensure the best use of freshwater resources.
USGS released a summary of its international activities April 6, anticipating that its work overseas will be expanding through the Global Water Partnership announced by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on March 22, World Water Day.
Calling water “an essential ingredient of global peace, stability and security,” Clinton announced the new partnership of organizations mobilized to respond to water challenges faced by many nations around the world.
“We believe this will help map our route to a more water-secure world,” Clinton said, “a world where no one dies from water-related diseases, where water does not impede social or economic development, and where no war is ever fought over water.”
The U.S. decision to organize the partnership is bolstered by a global assessment conducted by the intelligence community finding that water scarcity could become serious enough to threaten the stability of some strategically important nations in coming decades.
The water partnership encourages collaboration among government agencies, the private sector and the nonprofit, academic and scientific communities in the United States. These partnerships will mobilize knowledge, expertise and resources to provide safe drinking water and sanitation, improve water resources management worldwide and improve water security around the world.
The USGS, in particular, will provide technical resources to scientists in other countries for activities such as collecting data and creating hydrologic models. USGS scientists already have a history of providing international assistance and will likely do so on an expanded basis as the Global Water Partnership gears up its activities.
“The USGS expects to increase its international presence, contributing earth science to support developing nations and U.S. foreign policy,” said the April 6 release.
Following are highlights of USGS’ current international activity:
• USGS is assessing water availability in Afghanistan and analyzing the impact of mineral resources development on water resources. USGS has also assessed water availability at prospective resettlement sites for returning refugees.
• USGS is helping the World Bank and the government of Saudi Arabia to assess the risk of flood and drought.
• USGS assists the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in strategic planning for water resource management in Jordan, with focus on the status of Jordan’s groundwater supply.
• USGS scientists and the Chinese Ministry of Water Resources' Bureau of Hydrology are working to compare and test stream-flow monitoring instrumentation, modeling tools and data analysis.
• In El Salvador, USGS scientists are providing technical assistance to rebuild damaged stream-flow monitoring stations in key river basins in advance of the upcoming hurricane season.
Helping nations to provide clean, potable water to their citizens has been a U.S. foreign policy goal since 2005. In her World Water Day presentation, Clinton said a clean water supply is essential for achievement of many foreign policy goals. Aspirations to make large-scale improvements in global health cannot be met without clean water sources for care facilities and the reduction of water-borne diseases, she said. Improving opportunities in education and employment for women and girls cannot be achieved when they must devote so much time each day to the pursuit, acquisition and transportation of household water.