Water Policy Remains Unresolved International Issue

Published June 1, 1997

Californians are not the only ones wrestling with the age-old question of water. Determining who controls the flow of water and for what purposes is a vexing global concern, particularly in underdeveloped areas of the world, where water is a precious commodity.

In Pakistan, for example, Insight magazine reports that a quarter of all arable land is deteriorating due to salinity and water-logging caused by the indiscriminate construction of poorly engineered irrigation canals. The situation is no better in Egypt where, since the completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1970, salinization and water-logging have already unfavorably affected 50 percent of that country’s productive land.

Sometimes one nation’s water policy can adversely affect another country’s standard of living. Dams under construction on India’s Ganges River may deprive neighboring Bangladesh’s fertile flood plains of the water necessary to keep them agriculturally viable.