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Have you ever wondered what water security actually is? The United Nations has certainly looked at it. They deem water security as being the power of a population to maintain sustainable access to enough water. That water needs to be of sufficient quality and has to be safe.

It also needs to be enough in volume to sustain human health, local development, and provide livelihoods in that population. There also needs to be protected against disasters related to water and water pollution. Ideally, there will also be the preservation of local ecosystems and political stability.

Those are all great concepts, but they’re also very general. What does water security mean specifically? It’s about safeguarding every aspect of water, from ecosystem protection and daily use in homes and businesses to prevent political and international disputes that might happen because of water.

Water security is achievable, but only if everyone sits down at the table and participates in the conversation. That means politicians of all nations, states, and counties and leaders from every industry. Everyone must agree to the rules that are set to protect the water that everyone uses and relies on for life and sustainable civilization.

The very core of the idea of water security is balancing the needs of now versus the demands that will be placed in the future. Using too little water now can restrict economic activity and lead to the decline of societies, but using too much will burden the planet’s ecosystem to a point of degradation. There won’t be enough left remaining for future generations to use.

Conflicts over water have already risen around the world. In some American states, there is a conflict between agricultural farms and the EPA over water restrictions in place trying to protect endangered species of animals and even entire waterways. Several Western states are also in a constant political struggle over access to rivers that flow through all their states, specifically about who gets to draw how much water.

The international flashpoint of current concern is the Nile River. Ethiopia is building a dam that could provide electricity to millions of residents and spur serious economic development, but Egypt is worried about what might happen to its stretch of the river.