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Abstract

Appreciable increases in the human population are expected to continue in the next 50 to 100 years. This population will require additional water for nonfungible (nonexchangeable) uses such as irrigated agriculture, livestock watering, domestic supply, and ecosystem support. Because most of the world's easily captured water is already identified and allocated, society must improve efficiency, change the present allocations, and/or develop new sources to meet the expected demands. As the global economy expands, apparently unrelated changes in policy or technology may have large, unexpected consequences for water resources. Foreshadowing these changes in stress on these resources will be the result of nonlinear thinking. Whereas policy cannot create new water, it can provide strategies to promote more efficient use of present water and foster an environment in which important technological improvements can be made. This manuscript provides a brief overview of some of the physical and policy considerations relating to fresh water resources.