Global water scarcity including surface water quality and expansions of clean water technologies

Vliet, Michelle T.H. van; Jones, Edward R.; Flörke, Martina; Franssen, Wietse H.P.; Hanasaki, Naota; Wada, Yoshihide; Yearsley, John R.


Water scarcity threatens people in various regions, and has predominantly been studied from a water quantity perspective only. Here we show that global water scarcity is driven by both water quantity and water quality issues, and quantify expansions in clean water technologies (i.e. desalination and treated wastewater reuse) to ‘reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity’ as urgently required by UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6. Including water quality (i.e. water temperature, salinity, organic pollution and nutrients) contributes to an increase in percentage of world’s population currently suffering from severe water scarcity from an annual average of 30% (22%–35% monthly range; water quantity only) to 40% (31%–