Giving Compass' Take:

• As water resources become increasingly strained, the world must look to improve water management through techniques new and old to avert disaster.

• What do water use and management look like in your community? What changes can be made to decrease stress on natural resources?

• Some communities are in the midst of water crisis. Cape Town, South Africa is already facing "Day Zero" when water will cease to flow to the city.

More than 5 billion people could suffer water shortages by 2050 due to climate change, increased demand and polluted supplies, according to a UN report on the state of the world’s water.

The comprehensive annual study warns of conflict and civilizational threats unless actions are taken to reduce the stress on rivers, lakes, aquifers, wetlands, and reservoirs.

Humans use about 4,600 cubic km of water every year, of which 70% goes to agriculture, 20% to industry and 10% to households

The World Water Development Report – released in drought-hit Brasília – says positive change is possible, particularly in the key agricultural sector, but only if there is a move towards nature-based solutions that rely more on soil and trees than steel and concrete.

“For too long, the world has turned first to human-built, or ‘grey’, infrastructure to improve water management. In doing so, it has often brushed aside traditional and indigenous knowledge that embraces greener approaches,” says Gilbert Houngbo, the chair of UN Water, in the preface of the 100-page assessment. “In the face of accelerated consumption, increasing environmental degradation and the multi-faceted impacts of climate change, we clearly need new ways of manage competing demands on our freshwater resources.”

Read more about the looming water shortage by Jonathan Watts at The Guardian