This Article was written by Rayna Venkadesh (Year 7)
In December 1992, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly proclaimed the 22nd of March every year as World Water Day (WWD.) WWD was initiated to turn the world’s attention to the ongoing problem of freshwater scarcity and finding ways to manage this problem efficiently and sustainably.
Fresh water is vital for life to flourish, but what happens if you don’t have access to clean water?
There are harsh consequences for those who don’t have the options to use clean water. Many who don’t have access to clean water will have many ill-fated diseases like typhoid, dysentery, cholera, diarrhea, cancer, eye infection, liver and kidney issues and neurological problems such as ADHD. By drinking contaminated water, you can also get parasites like roundworm and whipworm.
Unsafe, untreated and contaminated water has led to 500,000 diarrhea- related deaths each year, making it the second leading cause of death for children under 5- which could be prevented through clean water and sanitation.
So where is this issue most prevalent?
1.9 billion people worldwide are using an unimproved source of water that is faecally contaminated. This problem is mostly present in Africa and Southeast Asia- While microbial water is wide-spread in low-middle income countries. Microbial water is different to faecally contaminated water in that the water is the natural form of water pollution caused by microorganisms (bacteria, parasites and viruses) while faecally contaminated water is polluted by feces.
Did you know:
40% of China’s water supply is polluted to unsafe drinking levels
14 billion pounds are dumped into the ocean each year
By 2050, 47% of people on earth will struggle to find clean drinking water
How do we combat this problem?
1. Proper Sewage Treatment
Most developed cities collect sewage waste to a point for treatment, then it’s emptied into rivers, lakes, etc. However, it cleans about 90% of waste in the sewage water- leaving 10% contaminated. On the other hand, some underdeveloped and financially unstable regions dump sewage directly into water bodies without undergoing treatment.
2. Sustainable Agricultural practices
Agricultural practices create water pollution as well. Commercial fertilizers and animal manure get washed into lakes and rivers which will eventually flow into oceans. This is why some farmers go green! Sustainable agricultural practices are basically improved methods that don’t cause silt depositions. Some of these methods include : crop rotation, installation of silt fences, mulching, etc. Farmers can manage pests like locusts by using biological pest control.
3. Industrial Waste Water Treatment
Industrial industries generate a lot of waste water containing high traces of water pollution like oil, toxic chemical compounds, etc. Many industries have poorly maintained systems and some entirely lack quality treatment protocols.
4. Anti-pollution laws and policies
Politics have always played a striving role in managing water pollution. Anti-pollution laws can also inflict restrictions such as sewage and industrial waste water treatments.
5. Individual efforts and educative campaigns
Individuals and groups can take the initiative to educate people about the dangers of water pollution. Word can spread through media, institutions and online educational forums. We need to make sure that we can limit how much garbage goes into the sea, and limit how much water we use everyday. Avoid throwing medicine, chemicals, oils and paints down the sink drain or toilet and use more environmentally friendly products at home.
By saving water, you can save people’s lives. It may not seem like a lot; but the solution to combat this global water crisis starts by making changes in your life.
How are you planning on making a difference?
Let us know!