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C. Water Issues in Southwest Asia


    Southwest Asia is mostly desert, resulting in the lack of water, but an even greater need for it. Southwest Asians need the water to drink, trade, and to grow the crops needed to survive.

    One problem in Southwest Asia is water pollution. With the growing population, citizens are using more and more water, thus releasing more and more pollutants into the environment around them. This destroys what little water is even left there! But, countries are too busy having political disputes, which has drawn their attention away from building the sewage treatment plants. To complicate matters further, the untreated pollutants then seep into the ground water or into their valuable freshwater sources.

     Another significant problem is the uneven distribution of the water sources. Some countries have huge rivers

like Iraq or gigantic aquifers like the West Bank. Since this water is usually not available to surrounding countries, sometimes wars are fought; for water!     (~continued below~)

In this picture above, dark blue stands for the Tigris River, teal or light turquoise stands for the Euphrates River, and light orange stands for the Jordan River. Red stands for the Sea of Galilee in the Golan Heights. The green dot is the West Bank Aquifer, well, in the West Bank. Lastly, the black dot or dead dot is for the Dead Sea, which has a VERY HIGH concentration of salt. Coincidentally, all of the water in Southwest Asia that can be used or turned into usable water is in the Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Israel area. Further off of the map past Iran without water is Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, etc. This shows the uneven distribution.

    Yet another problem that needs to be fixed is the pipes and water distribution systems. Studies have shown that in some countries as much as 55% of the water piped from the distribution center leaks out of the run-down pipes. This has been going on for a while, yet no one is working to solve it.


     But there are also many solutions. Piping water from one country to another seems a big idea right now. Building pipes and dams to redirect water from major rivers like the Jordan, Euphrates, and Tigris River, -(an easy way to remember the rivers' places on a map using the initials J.E.T or jet: Jordan, over to the right is Euphrates, and even further is the Tigris)- seems very simple. But the problem is that they would pass through other countries and possibly lower downstream water sources for other countries. Channels will also be subject to sabotage from enemy countries.

    Probably the biggest idea now is desalination. Desalination is the process of removing salt from sea water by either evaporating or sifting with powerful pushers. Desalination seems excellent. Southwest Asia is almost completely surrounded with salt water. If you had a process to turn all that water into fresh water, voila! You have your solution. Here's the problem with this though: desalination is great, but it is very expensive, especially to get the equipment. It also uses a lot of fuel, which a lot of countries don't have. Money is the biggest antagonist for desalination.

    The smartest idea out there is to fix the pollution and to modernize the areas. If you could fix pollution, then you could salvage what actual water is left, if any. Pollution is like the nail in the coffin for fresh water in Southwest Asia. Some ideas are to add more waste management plants and to modernize up. Try to recycle as much as you can, so that close to no trash will be dumped out.

    Modernizing is most likely the best idea. There are no huge antagonists for it, and it can save some water, and in Southwest Asia where people are in great need; anything helps.

Georgia Performance Standard

SS7G6 The student will discuss environmental issues across Southwest Asia (Middle East).

a. Explain how water pollution and the unequal distribution of water impacts irrigation and drinking water.

Quick Summary:
  • Much of Southwest Asia is desert, so there is not a lot of water to use for drinking and irrigation 
  • Water is not equally distributed; close to none of the countries in Southwest Asia have a good water source; this has been the cause for many clashes, including the 6 Day War, which was fought over water.
  • Pollution is a big problem, especially since it destroys the little water Southwest Asia has left.
  • Ancient pipes can be a problem, especially when up to 55% of water from distribution centers leaks out of your pipes.
  • One solution is desalination, or removing salt from seawater, but desalination is VERY expensive.
  • Another solution is building dams to collect water, but this creates conflicts with countries downstream.
  • Also piping water to other countries but a good spot for enemies to sabotage 

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Team Kobra