Clean Water Supplies
March 22, 2012 by staff
Clean Water Supplies, Around the world, getting clean water presents a constant challenge for millions of people. Our rising global population demands more water for drinking, personal hygiene, agriculture, and industry. Simultaneously, our industrial development pollutes much of the world’s freshwater. And from year to year, droughts and other weather extremes can make water a scarce resource.
On top of all that, now our water has to contend with climate change. As Elizabeth Shope wrote a few weeks ago for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):
As a whole, nearly a billion people still lack access to clean drinking water and over two and a half billion lack a safe, hygienic place to go to the bathroom. Lack of safe drinking water and sanitation is the single largest cause of illness and contributes to the death of 2 million people a year. These issues are unfortunately exacerbated by global warming; more frequent and severe droughts and floods increase water shortages and cause more widespread contamination and sanitation challenges.
Thursday’s designation as World Water Day is meant to draw attention to the world’s freshwater supplies, and that includes reasons that make water hard to come by. We tend to think of access to clean water as a “third-world problem” -affecting people that live in poverty-stricken and developing countries. Yes, regions of Africa, Asia and South America constantly struggle to meet their freshwater demands. But we’re not immune to water shortages here in the U.S.
For nearly a decade the American Southwest has battled both ongoing drought and soaring water demands from the region’s population explosion. In recent years, we’ve pulled water out of the Colorado River Basin faster than it can be naturally replenished and it’s led to fiery disputes about how water should be managed in the region. In the Southeast, population growth, poor resource management and a long run of bad weather were blamed for severe shortages a few years back that led to widespread water restrictions.
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