Ecologists are beginning to believe that the world has to confront a natural limit on something once considered virtually infinite – water. A swelling global population, changing diets and mankind's expanding “water footprint” could be bringing an end to the era of cheap water.
Nations which share transboundary freshwater reserves are potentially heading for conflicts. Unless agreements are quickly reached on how to share reservoirs, rivers, and underground water acquifers, more than 50 countries on five continents are likely to be caught up in prolonged water disputes.
Why should I be aware of this?
Good water management is part of peacebuilding. There are concerns that water will increasingly be the cause of violence and even war. It is a basic condition for life. Its availability and quality is fundamental for all societies, especially in relation to agriculture and health.
Ecologists have adopted the term “peak ecological water” like the concept of “peak oil”, and when nations start appropriating more than ‘peak ecological water' then ecological disruptions exceed the human benefit obtained. When water is thus exploited and its quality degraded, it meant that methods of processing it would become more expensive.
In places like West Africa today, the Ganges-Brahmaputra river system in Nepal, Bangladesh and India, and Peru major changes in the rivers generate a significant risk of violent conflict.
David Zhang, a geographer at the University of Hong Kong, produced a study published in the US National Academy of Sciences journal that analyzed 8,000 wars over 500 years and concluded that water shortage had played a far greater role as a catalyst than previously supposed. 
All about water wars
In every sector of human activity, including agriculture, industrial production and power generation, and as a key means for transporting people and goods, water is essential. It is estimated that 10% of world water withdrawal is used for domestic uses, 20% for industrial uses, and 70% for irrigated agriculture.
Access to water, and its allocation and use, are becoming increasingly critical due to population growth, economic development and pollution. They are also increasingly becoming critical concerns that may have profound consequences on societal stability
Causes of tension
Water is indispensable to human survival, livelihoods and most forms of economic production. Water wars can take place at the following levels:
- Access to water and water allocation can become causes of tensions, which may escalate into conflict, within or between states. Direct violent conflicts over water are most likely on a local level, for example, over the privatization of drinking water or access to a water point.
- On the international level, tensions between countries that share a river basin may hinder sustainable development. This indirectly promotes poverty, migration and social instability. They also have the potential to exacerbate other non-water-related violent conflicts.
- Between states, the development of shared data, information systems, water management institutions, and legal frameworks helps to sustain efforts to reduce the risk of conflict.
Basic human need
The UN has declared access to water for basic human needs, such as drinking water, hygiene and for food preparation, as a fundamental human right. Thus it becomes the duty of the state to ensure that it is free, or provided at a cost that is affordable to the poor. Water for luxury goods, i.e. for swimming pools or for washing cars, can, however, be viewed as a private economic good, and allocated according to market principles.
- A glass of orange juice needs 850 litres of fresh water to produce, according to the Pacific Institute and the Water Footprint Network. 
- Manufacture of a kilogram of microchips — requiring constant cleaning to remove chemicals — needs about 16,000 litres. 
- A hamburger comes in at 2,400 litres of fresh water, depending on the origin and type of meat used.