Global Water Crisis
The global water crisis is one of the greatest challenges that the human race has faced historically. Safe and reliable access to clean water is a challenge that millions of people face every year.
Two Sides of the Coin
Availability: Providing enough water to support and sustain a community’s population on a daily basis, without negatively impacting the amount of water needed to sustain the health of the local environment.
Quality: Providing proper management methods that minimize the potential risk of waterborne illnesses, through prevention (removing sources of contamination in the environment) or treatment (filtering/treating water to remove or neutralize sources of contamination).
Water availability is based on two major challenges:
physical water scarcity and economic water scarcity
Physical Water Scarcity is when there is simply not enough water in the environment to meet the demands of the ecosystem and human needs, such as irrigation, industrial water use, and human use/consumption. Many parts of the world suffer from physical water scarcity, either from the lack of precipitation and/or other fresh water sources, or from overwhelming the available supply from increasing demand.
Economic Water Scarcity occurs when there is an insufficient amount of financial resources or human capacity to develop a local water supply, even if the water supply itself may exist. This includes both a lack of infrastructure to distribute water and/or the inequitable distribution of water to sections of the population. This is mainly found in places where basic livelihood opportunities don’t exist and/or where political corruption exploits the population’s resources, keeping them in perpetual poverty.
As of 2013, 783 million people lack access to clean water, with an estimated 6-8 million deaths per year from the consequences of disasters and water-related diseases. Children under the age of five face the greatest risk of contaminated water due to undeveloped immune systems, resulting in over 800,000 deaths annually from diarrheal diseases alone.
Many water-related diseases, such as Typhoid, Cholera, and Hepatitis (A, E), come from water contaminated with sewage/fecal waste, which is then commonly ingested through drinking or it’s presence on food items.
Without proper education, technological, and financial resources, water pollution will continue to be the cause of death and suffering to millions of people around the globe.