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Clean water is essential to human health and in many parts of the world it is in short supply.

Action ideas Edit

  • If you can get your drinking water from a tap and avoid environmentally harmful bottled water
  • If eating out, don't be embarrassed about asking for drinking water from a tap and avoid environmentally harmful bottled water
  • Use reusable and recyclable drinking water containers such as glass jugs

Why it matters

Water and human health
Water fit for human consumption is called drinking water or "potable water". Water that is not specifically made for drinking, but is not harmful for humans when used for food preparation is called safe water.

This natural resource is becoming scarcer in certain places, and its availability is a major social and economic concern.

Currently, about 1 billion people around the world routinely drink unhealthy water. Most countries have accepted the goal of halving by 2015 the number of people worldwide who do not have access to safe water and sanitation during the 2003 G8 Evian summit [1]. Even if this difficult goal is met, it will still leave more than an estimated half a billion people without access to safe drinking water supplies and over 1 billion without access to adequate sanitation facilities. Poor water quality and bad sanitation are killers; some 5 million deaths a year are caused by polluted drinking water.

That is hardly surprising, since in the developing world, 90% of all wastewater still goes untreated into local rivers and streams. Some 50 countries, with roughly a third of the world’s population, also suffer from medium or high water stress, and 17 of these extract more water annually than is recharged through their natural water cycles Script error. The strain affects surface freshwater bodies like rivers and lakes, but it also degrades groundwater resources.

The politics of water distribution Edit

See water resources for information about fresh water supplies; see also Category:Water and politics for articles treating about water politics

Because of overpopulation in many regions of the world, mass consumption and water pollution, the availability of drinking water per capita is inadequate and shrinking as of the year 2006. For this reason, water is a strategic resource in the globe, and an important element in many political conflicts. Some have predicted that clean water will become the "next oil", making Canada, with this resource in abundance, possibly the richest country in the world. There is a long history of conflict over water, including efforts to gain access to water, the use of water in wars started for other reasons, and tensions over shortages and control [1]. UNESCO's World Water Development Report (WWDR, 2003) from its World Water Assessment Program indicates that, in the next 20 years, the quantity of water available to everyone is predicted to decrease by 30%. 40% of the world's inhabitants currently have insufficient fresh water for minimal hygiene. More than 2.2 million people died in 2000 from diseases related to the consumption of contaminated water or drought. In 2004, the UK charity WaterAid reported that a child dies every 15 seconds due to easily preventable water-related diseases. Fresh water, now more precious than ever in our history for its extensive use in agriculture, high-tech manufacturing, and energy production, is increasingly receiving attention as a resource requiring better management and sustainable use.

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  1. A Chronology of Water-Related Conflicts
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