Water is the world’s most precious commodity, there is no other substance more crucial to survival than water. As humans we are dependent on access to abundant uncontaminated water for public water supplies as well as for agriculture and fisheries. It is an integral part of the natural heritage and cultural life of all human societies. Rivers, lakes and the sea have affected patterns of human and animal movement and settlement, and influenced our beliefs and myths for thousands of years. In the UK our personal use of water alone, amounts to about 50 litres each day. Industry uses twice this. 90% of all water used by humans is for agriculture. Water quality is the clearest indicator of environmental quality.
There are many reasons to be gloomy right now about global and local water supplies. Currently over a billion people in the world do not have access to safe water and over two million people die from diseases related to drinking contaminated every year. The lack of clean water close to people’s homes also affects livelihoods and quality of life. Unstable weather patterns are likely to create droughts and floods. The rising global population will increase demand on diminishing water supplies. The melting of the glaciers will increase flooding, such that large low-lying coastal areas and estuaries from Bangladesh to Holland and even London may be lost under water.
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