Quantcast

What City Will Run Out of Water First?

As drought threatens more areas of the world, we're hearing a steady stream of stories about cities, towns and regions whose water supply is interrupted temporarily.

San Antonio, TX, with a population of nearly a million and a half, and a metro population of 2.3 million, faces the threat of running out of water.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

That's led experts to investigate what major world city could be the first to run out of water entirely. And it could be a city right here in the U.S.

A study done at the Environmental Hydrology Laboratory at the University of Florida ranks the 225 American cities with populations greater than 100,000 on fresh water availability and vulnerability. And while many of the most vulnerable cities are in the southwest, as one might expect with drought conditions sweeping California and Texas, there are some surprises.

The study rates ten cities as having a high level of vulnerability. San Antonio, with a metro area population of just under 2.3 million, comes in at 225. But it's followed by Miami, Florida, at 224 the second most vulnerable city. The largest metropolitan area threatened is Los Angeles, ranked 220 in terms of water security.

The other U.S. cities bringing up the rear are Lincoln, NE (223), San Jose, CA (222), San Diego, CA (221), Salt Lake City, UT (219), Riverside/San Bernadino, CA (218), Mission Viejo, CA (217) and El Paso, TX/NM (216). Other areas with a population of more than a million that face lesser but still high threats of water depletion are New York, Chicago, Cleveland, and Tampa/St. Petersburg.

"High-ranking cities tend to be adjacent to very large lakes, such as the Great Lakes, and large rivers, such as the Mississippi or Columbia," says the study.

"For example, the highest-availability city (Duluth, MN) is the only U.S. city on Lake Superior, the third-largest freshwater body in the world (by volume). The other Great Lakes have smaller volumes and are shared by more (and larger) cities. Low-ranking cities are often found in arid regions (for example Los Angeles and Las Vegas), have low storage per capita (for example Miami and Atlanta) or share sources with multiple other cities (for example Chicago and Tallahassee)."

Worldwide, Environmental Defense Fund Business reports that experts predict Sana'a, Yemen, with a population of nearly two million, could be the first capital city to run out of water in slightly more than a decade. Other large metro areas such as Istanbul (population more than 14 million) also face threats of running out of water in that time period, just as the populations of developing countries are increasingly urbanized.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

The Executive Order That Could Save U.S. Water Supplies

World’s Largest Coal Company Agrees to Stop Depleting Chinese Community’s Water Supply

Is California Headed For a Century-Long Drought?

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A video shows a woman rescuing a koala from Australia's wildfires. VOA News / YouTube screenshot

More than 350 koalas may have died in the wildfires raging near the Australian town of Port Macquarie in New South Wales, but one got a chance at survival after a woman risked her life to carry him to safety.

Read More Show Less
American bison roaming Badlands National park, South Dakota. Prisma / Dukas / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

By Clay Bolt

On Oct. 11 people around the world celebrated the release of four plains bison onto a snow-covered butte in Badlands National Park, South Dakota.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
An EPA sponsored cleanup of the toxic Gowanus Canal dredges a section of the canal of industrial debris on Oct. 28, 2016 in Brooklyn. The Gowanus is a Superfund site from years of industrial waste spilling into the water, and it is listed in GAO's report to be at risk from a climate disaster. Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis / Getty Images

The climate crisis has put at least 945 designated toxic waste sites at severe risk of disaster from escalating wildfires, floods, rising seas and other climate-related disasters, according to a new study from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO), as the AP reported.

Read More Show Less
(L) Selma Three Stone Engagement Ring. (R) The Greener Diamond Farm Project. MiaDonna

By Bailey Hopp

If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.

Read More Show Less
Rob Greenfield pictured above is driven by the concept of "living a life where [he] can wake up and feel good about [his] life." Rob Greenfield / Facebook

For one year Rob Greenfield grew and foraged all of his own food. No grocery stores, no restaurants, no going to a bar for a drink, not even medicines from the pharmacy.

Read More Show Less