A recent study found that the southern hemisphere has 20% less water availability than 20 years ago; arid regions have higher evaporation and humid regions have decreased precipitation. Additionally, a drier climate may produce more intense rainfall in the wet season, and therefore more flooding. More droughts and floods degrade the ecosystem, emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, thus creating a vicious cycle.
The article highlights the paradox of reservoirs and levees increasing an overall feeling of false water security, making society more vulnerable to future droughts and floods.
The solution may be diversifying water supply and flood protection systems and allowing society to experience mild floods and droughts, making it part of the collective recent memory. The increased awareness results in humans being more mindful of their living habits and water use.
For example, in 2018, “Day Zero” in Cape Town, South Africa changed the city’s water use habits drastically. Engineers should keep this in mind: minor damages due to droughts and floods now, prevent major damages later.