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£1M study to avert 'water wars'

THE INSTITUTE of Hydrology has criticised a United Nations report on world water resources and called for Government backing for a new £1M study to identify potential 'water war' flash points.

The Institute claims that the two year old report, Comprehensive Assessment of the Freshwater Resources of the World, by the Russian hydrology institute and Swedish environment institute, over-simplifies the growing world water supply problem

Speaking to NCE on Monday, Institute hydrologist Dr Jeremy Meigh described the report as 'extremely crude' and claimed it was 'too broad brush' to predict where future conflicts could occur.

Despite taking three years to produce, the UN report only considers water availability at country scale and takes no account of ground water or global warming.

The Institute has already carried out its own Department for International Development-funded assessment of water resources for southern and eastern Africa. It has developed a sophisticated computer model to predict changes in water availability over a 0.5 by 0.5 degree grid and now wants to extend the work to the rest of the world.

Institute head of water resources Frank Farquharson said the model went 'much further' than the UN report and was designed to allow politicians to plan for the future. 'It allows several 'what if' scenarios such as population growth, a decline in vegetation cover and global warming to be built into the results,' he said.

'For the first time people will be able to see possible flash points for conflicts over water well in advance and do something about it.'

The Institute hopes to receive funding by April.

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