Water means life and prosperity. Clean, it is one of the most beautiful substances in the world. Dirty, it is one of the most revolting.

Though it is a blue planet, water is a limited and finite resource. Less than 2.5% of the water can be used and reused as freshwater. Less than half of that is readily – or with some effort – accessible. And that which is accessible for drinking water supply, is unevenly and unfairly distributed or shared. Today, nearly 900 million people lack access to safe drinking water. For these people, the lack of access to what some call a basic human right impedes their ability to come out of poverty and live healthy and productive lives.

Water is the integral fabric in the quilt of life. The Earth’s ecosystems, societies, and individuals need it. Without it, food security, human health, energy supplies, and industrial production would be unobtainable. Plants, wildlife, and their ecosystems need water. Shortages and poor management can lead to loss of biodiversity and agricultural production, increase in malnutrition and disease, reduced economic growth, social instability and conflict.

Most of the cities where large numbers of people live without taps are cities with plentiful water supplies. And in cities with water shortages, there are rarely any restrictions on water use for the rich. Water for household use represents only about 8% to 10% of total water consumption. Industry and agriculture consume the majority.

Last updated: Thu, 11/04/2010 - 18:16