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Balancing water demands with supplies : the role of management in a world of increasing scarcity (Inglês)

One of the clearest indicators of man's exploitation of the world's natural resources is the growing imbalance between the supply and demand of fresh water. The most disturbing aspect of the worldwide scarcity of fresh water is the speed with which it has come about. In the past, imbalances in the water equation have been mostly redressed by developing new water supplies. However, the limitations of this traditional supply-side approach, primarily less accessible resources and escalating costs, are becoming apparent. Therefore, the answer must lie in reducing the demand side of the equation, by improving efficiency and introducing conservation measures. This paper deals with this increasingly important topic of how to balance water demands with supplies. It examines the experience of OECD countries in influencing the behavior of water users, and draws lessons from attempts to manage demand by imposing water use regulations and employing economic incentives. The paper points out that there can be no blueprint for applying demand management practices as most countries and communities differ in their response to regulation, encouragement and incentives. Nevertheless, the guiding principles described should be of considerable value to those wishing to introduce demand management techniques into their nation's water equation.

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