Water Quality: Healthy People, Healthy Ecosystems
Water is the basis of life on earth. The quality of life directly depends on water quality. Good water quality sustains healthy ecosystems and hence leads to improved human well-being. However, poor water quality affects
the environment and human well-being. For example waterborne diseases cause the death of more than 1.5 million children each year.
The quality of water resources is increasingly threatened by pollution. Human activity over the past 50 years is responsible for unprecedented pollution of water resources in history. It is estimated that over 2.5 billion people globally live without adequate sanitation. Every day, 2 million tons of sewage and other effluents drain into the world’s waters. The problem is worse in developing countries where over 90% of raw sewage and 70% of untreated industrial wastes are dumped into surface waters.
Water quality is key to human and ecosystem health, and there are numerous add-on benefits to improving water quality: improved ecosystems and ecosystem services, improved health, and improved livelihoods. Clean water is an essential ingredient to economic growth and development – and investing in water and sanitation has high economic and social returns.
Protecting Water Quality: A shared responsibility for the common benefit
We all live downstream and therefore protecting water sources from pollution is everyone’s responsibility. It can not be left to public authorities alone. All sectors, public and private, must take appropriate and adequate
action to prevent pollution. It demands the open engagement of all stakeholders, from individuals and local communities to international organizations, non-governmental organizations, and civil society. Action
should be differentiated according to the type of water use and the actors i.e. whether as an individual person or as a corporate body.
There is an urgent need to step up research, monitoring and assessment of water quality at global, regional, and local levels; taking an integrated approach using the basin as a management unit. Scientific findings from research should inform sound policy formation and implementation. Furthermore sufficiently funded and manned regulatory functions are required to ensure compliance with and enforcement of rules and regulations.
Clean water is life. We already have the know-how and skills to address it. Let us now have the will. Human life and prosperity rest on our actions today to be the stewards, not polluters, of this most precious resource – our clean water.
Source: United Nations