"The major problems in the world are the result of differences between the way nature works and the way people think." Gregory Bateson
The purpose of Auburn University's Water Resources Center is to bridge the gap between the way nature works and the way people think by:
Approximately 2.5% of all the water on earth is fresh water. Less than 1% of all the water on earth is fresh, accessible, and renewable. This is the water in the hydrologic cycle.
While water supplies are limited, human population (and accompanying urbanization and industrialization) have grown explosively. It was around the year 1800 before human population finally reached 1 billion. Two hundred years later, human population stands at 6.8 billion, and by 2050 will reach 9.5 billion.
As dramatic as human population growth has been, water consumption has been outpacing population growth around the world for the past two decades. If the current trend persists, the demand for fresh water will rise by 56 percent by 2025, and as much as two-thirds of the world's population will be coping with serious water shortages.
While demand is increasing, supplies of clean, fresh water are dwindling. Pollution of fresh water supplies makes water less available for use and consumption. Climate change is reducing the amount of available fresh water as glaciers, snow pack, and polar ice recede at dramatic and unprecedented rates. Longstanding and climate-enhanced drought patterns add additional stress to fresh water supplies.
As a result, concerns over shortages of potable water could supersede those for oil in the coming decade—and, unlike oil, there are no alternatives for water. Consequently, water use, water quality, and water scarcity issues, which are closely tied to water quality and human health, are becoming a much higher priority for all of society.
In Alabama and the Southeast, we are facing many water use, water supply, and water quality issues. To tackle and find solutions to these issues, AU President Ed Richardson created the Auburn University Water Initiative, from which the Auburn University Water Resources Center was formed and now serves as the catalyst for addressing water resource problems and enhancing the quality of life in Alabama, the Southeast, and beyond.
Last Updated: May 25, 2012