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Extending traditional water supplies in inland communities with nontraditional solutions to water scarcity

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Abstract Urban communities around the world are grappling with the challenges associated with population increases, drought, and projected water shortages. With a substantial global shortfall between water supply and demand expected by 2030, water planning strategies must adapt to a new reality characterized by higher temperatures and less precipitation, requiring new ways of thinking about water management, use, and governance. Commonplace strategies such as water conservation and nonpotable water reuse might not be sufficient to adequately stretch water supplies in water‐scarce parts of the industrialized world. In the United States, planned potable water reuse (i.e., purification of domestic wastewater for reuse as drinking water) is emerging as a way forward to mitigate water shortages without significant changes to lifestyle, behavior, or infrastructure. But potable reuse is not the only solution: paradigm shifting and disruptive options that more holistically address water scarcity, such as composting toilets and market‐based approaches to water use, are also gaining traction, and they could be pursued alongside or instead of potable water reuse. However, these options would require more significant changes to lifestyles, behavior, infrastructure, and governance. While all of the options considered offer advantages, they each come with new concerns and challenges related to cost, public perception, social norms, and policy. The goal of this work is to consider a number of plausible solutions to water scarcity—partial and complete, traditional and disruptive—to stimulate forward‐looking thinking about the increasingly common global problem of water scarcity. This article is categorized under: Engineering Water > Sustainable Engineering of Water Engineering Water > Planning Water

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Engineering Water > Planning Water
Engineering Water > Sustainable Engineering of Water

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