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The situation of drinking water in the world

Drinking water or potable water is water pure enough to be consumed or used with low risk of immediate or long term harm. In most developed countries, the water supplied to households, commerce and industry is all of drinking water standard, even though only a very small proportion is actually consumed or used in food preparation. Typical uses include washing or landscape irrigation.

Over large parts of the world, humans have inadequate access to potable water and use sources contaminated with disease vectors, pathogens or unacceptable levels of toxins or suspended solids. Drinking or using such water in food preparation leads to widespread acute and chronic illnesses and is a major cause of death and misery in many countries. Reduction of waterborne diseases is a major public health goal in developing countries.

Water has always been an important and life-sustaining drink to humans and is essential to the survival of all organisms. Excluding fat, water composes approximately 70% of the human body by mass. It is a crucial component of metabolic processes and serves as a solvent for many bodily solutes. The United States Environmental Protection Agency in risk assessment calculations assumes that the average American adult ingests 2.0 litres per day. Drinking water of a variety of qualities is bottled. Bottled water is sold for public consumption throughout the world.

Spring water, a natural resource from which much bottled water comes, generally contains minerals.[12] Tap water, delivered by domestic water systems in developed nations, refers to water piped to homes through a tap. All of these forms of water are commonly drunk, often purified through filtration.

The most efficient way to transport and deliver potable water is through pipes. Plumbing can require significant capital investment. Some systems suffer high operating costs. The cost to replace the deteriorating water and sanitation infrastructure of industrialized countries may be as high as $200 billion a year. Leakage of untreated and treated water from pipes reduces access to water. Leakage rates of 50% are not uncommon in urban systems.

Because of the high initial investments, many less wealthy nations cannot afford to develop or sustain appropriate infrastructure, and as a consequence people in these areas may spend a correspondingly higher fraction of their income on water.2003 statistics from El Salvador, for example, indicate that the poorest 20% of households spend more than 10% of their total income on water. In the United Kingdom authorities define spending of more than 3% of one's income on water as a hardship.

The Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water between 1990 and 2015 will probably be reached. Some countries though still face enormous challenges.

Rural communities are the furthest from meeting the 2015 MDGs drinking water target. Globally only 27% of the rural population has water piped directly to their home and 24% rely on unimproved sources. Of the 884 million people without access to an improved water source, 746 million people (84%) live in rural areas. Sub-Saharan Africa has made the least progress in improved water sources since 1990, improving only 9% to 2006. In contrast, the Eastern Asian region saw a dramatic drop from 45% to 9% reliance on unimproved water in the same time period.