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The importance of the access to clean water

On March 22th has been commemorated the World Water Day under the theme "Water and Sustainable Development"

Monday, March 23th, 2015

The importance of the access to clean water

By Cristina Villanueva, researcher at CREAL

On March 22th has been commemorated the World Water Day under the theme "Water and Sustainable Development". In the management and access to safe water and sustainable development there are many open questions. Why the water may content pollutants? How safe is the water we drink? How can we bring access to safe drinking water to the people who still do not enjoy it?

Drinking water is scarce and in Europe may have certain contaminants in low concentrations due to their intensive use in agriculture, industry and everyday use. Among others, we can find disinfection by-products, nitrate, pesticides, drugs and perfluorinated compounds. In this sense, despite the integrated water management, you can still detect traces of these pollutants in the distribution network. Should we worry about the concentrations of these pollutants? These are very low and in principle should not be alarming unless for the multitude of pollutants at such concentrations, since it is not known if synergies between them and potential effects from prolonged exposure to combinations of compounds may occur.

Access to water in developing countries

The situation in developing countries is different. In this case, the problem would be to ensure access to clean water. Although one of the Millennium Development Goals of reducing by half the number of people without access to safe drinking water has been achieved in 2010, there are still 2,500 million people without sanitation.

Another challenge to meet is to provide water and sanitation services to the suburbs, that according with trends will continue to grow in the coming decades. The solutions available to provide water and sanitation to the peripheries of the cities are quite complex. However, if not taken, the municipalities must bear the costs of pollution, disease and loss of tourism related to the lack of these basic services.

In conclusion, in this day of celebration we must continue working on new challenges associated with the universal right of access to drinking water and must reflect on the role we have as citizens to promote rational use of water as necessary as scarce.


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