by Abigail Brown, Water For The Ages
June 10, 2008

An estimated three hundred and four million of them across the globe, and yet still, researchers are noticing many inland lakes are beginning to dry.

In Siberia, Central Asia, East Africa, and North America -- the results are the same -- lakes simply cannot compete with man-made alterations to the environment.

And, these are not just small lakes, some of the lakes with dropping water levels are gigantic in size.

There are 122 large lakes in the world each over 1000 square kilometers (386 square miles).

Lake Victoria, in Africa, is the largest tropical lake in the world at 68,800 square kilometers (26,560 square miles). Mounting water-level decline in this lake is slowly eroding the livelihood of local fisherman and ranchers, agricultural producers, and industrial water users near the lake. A lack of suitable drinking water or dependable power supply is also becoming more common in the region.

Morning Edition on NPR recently aired a segment on Lake Victoria by corespondent Jessica Partnow: Battle for Resources Grows as Lake Victoria Shrinks. She has also reported on dropping water levels in Lake Haramaya in Africa for World Vision Report. Sometimes occasional fluctuations of water levels in lakes are natural, but the current rate that many lakes are beginning to go dry throughout the world is not.

Humans alter the natural environment near lakes and water levels decline. We build dams, over-pump rivers, over-use groundwater, put roads and parking lots in natural recharge areas, build industries in locations without enough water, over-irrigate our crops, and, often, we use too much water in our homes. Not to mention the effect of a changing climate on water supply sources.

But, some things that could help 'decline' at least some of this water-level decline include:

  • conservation, conservation, conservation
  • grow crops in regions they are acclimated (low-water crops)
  • alternative water supply sources such as rainwater harvesting systems
  • pursue green "water conservative" development techniques
  • reduce the pavement
  • rethink industrial production
  • low impact living
  • conservation, conservation, conservation.

Here's a few other lakes around the world with dropping water levels: