The United Nations (UN) on the occasion of the World Water Day, 22 March 2017, published a report that stated that wastewater is a key to solving global water crisis.
The report stated that recycling the world's waste water, almost all of which goes untreated, would ease global water shortages while protecting the environment.
Key highlights of the report
• The report highlighted the fact that people have been using fresh water faster than nature can replace it. This contributed to hunger, disease, conflict and migration in some regions.
• Two-thirds of human population currently live in zones that experience water scarcity at least one month a year. The report states that half of those people live in China and India.
• On current trends, the United Nations Environment Programme predicts that water demand, for industry, energy and an extra billion people, will increase by 50 per cent by 2030.
• Global warming has already deepened droughts in many areas. The earth will continue to heat up over the course of the century, even under optimistic scenarios.
• Waste water, runoff from agriculture, industry and expanding cities contribute to the problem. The problem is deeper in poor countries where very little, if any, waste water is treated or recycled.
• High-income nations treat about 70 per cent of the waste water they generate. The figure drops to 38 per cent for upper middle-income countries. In low-income nations, only 8 per cent of industrial and municipal waste water undergoes treatment of any kind.
• More than 800000 people die every year because of contaminated drinking water, and not being able to properly wash their hands.
• Water-related diseases claim nearly 3.5 million lives annually in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The figure is more than the global death toll from AIDS and car crashes combined.
• Chemicals and nutrients from factories and farms lead to dead-zones in rivers, lakes and coastal waters, and seep into aquifers.
• The report concludes that policy initiatives must shift focus to removing contaminants from waste water flows, reusing water, and recovering useful by-products to reduce pollution at the source.