According to National Geographic’s website, drinkable water makes up a tiny fraction of all water on Earth. Even as 70 percent of the world’s surface is covered with water, only 2.5 percent of it is fresh. Of that, only 1 percent is easily accessible, with The rest trapped in glaciers and snowfields.
That means that only 0.007 percent of the planet’s stationary freshwater is available to 7.7 billion people, and that figure doesn’t account for water’s worldwide use in industry. The World Bank has said that countries need to quadruple spending, to $150 billion a year, to deliver safe water and sanitation, helping reduce childhood disease and deaths while boosting economic growth.
The hope may lay in the knowledge that it’s being done. Populations such as those in Australia and Singapore, along with the states of California, New Mexico and Virginia, drink recycled water today, demonstrating that purified wastewater can be made safe and clean. Processing is shown to be vigorous and extensive and often involves more than one treatment, with the end product having fewer contaminants than existing treated water supplies.
Recycled water is also used to replenish sensitive ecosystems wherein wildlife, fish and plants are left vulnerable when water is diverted for urban or rural needs. In coastal areas, recycled water helps recharge groundwater aquifers to prevent the intrusion of saltwater, which occurs when groundwater has been overpumped.
The trick is in the delivery. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that some 2.5 billion people (35 percent of the world’s population) lack access to an improved water source — meanwhile, UNICEF data show, 5.2 billion had access to “safely managed” water services in 2015, which represents an increase of 1.4 billion since 2000. Moreover, a 2016 UNICEF report on drinking and sanitation in schools reflects that 69 percent of venues worldwide had a basic drinking water service.
A recent article in London’s The Guardian outlined several new technologies designed to recycle wastewater as the world persists in battling the shortages. Indeed, items such as climate change and accelerating birth rates threaten to dampen progress the world has seen since the beginning of the 21st century. But that progress has yielded exactly those technologies and positive statistics, which bode well for clean water programs worldwide and beckon the end of the global drinking water crisis in the easily foreseeable future.