Tuesday, July 26, 2005

With a Push From UNESCO, Water Reveals Its Secrets

New York Times article (Registration required, but free/)

"Today, more than a billion people lack access to safe drinking water. Polluted water contributes, each year, to the death of about 15 million children under age 5. By midcentury, between two billion and seven billion people will face water shortages.

"New nuclear techniques are helping developing countries better use water resources. 'No region will be spared from the impact of this crisis,' Koichiro Matsuura, director general of Unesco, recently warned. 'Water supplies are falling while the demand is dramatically growing.'........

"Using the tools of isotope hydrology, scientists can discover the age, origins, size, flow and fate of a water source. And that information, in turn, can guide sound water-use policy, letting water engineers better map underground aquifers, conserve supplies and control pollution.........

"A little money goes a long way. Each year, the isotope hydrology program spends only about $2 million on research and $5 million to aid developing states. Still, that is enough to finance 84 projects in more than 50 countries, including Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Morocco and Senegal."

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