Discover World Water Day
Wednesday 22nd March marks World Water Day 2017 – a day that, every year, is dedicated to taking action against the growing water crisis across the world.
As you read this, there are over 663 million people struggling to find a safe water supply that they don’t have to walk miles and miles for.
The same 663 million people that somehow manage to survive without a safe water supply close to their home.
The same 663 million people that spend hour upon hour queuing for water – without even being sure that they’ll receive some.
The same 663 million people coping with the health impacts that using contaminated water present to them, every single day of their lives.
So when you get up to fill the kettle or run yourself a bath, just take a moment to reflect upon how lucky you really are. Imagine how different your life may have been had you not been fortunate enough to be born where you were.
Imagine that, just for a moment and then discover more about World Water Day 2017.
Why Waste Water?
Every year for World Water Day (WWD), UN-Water strive to highlight one important aspect of freshwater, with that theme running through the entire campaign.
The theme for 2017 – “Why Waste Water?” – is all about reducing water consumption and finding new and innovative ways of reusing wastewater; maintaining sustainable levels of use that won’t mean future generations have to travel to distant planets to get their dehydrated hands on some fresh water.
This entire theme is based around the United Nations, Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 6.3 – which requires humans (that’s you, me and everyone you know and don’t know) to “improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing the release of hazardous chemical and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally” by the year 2030.
If we are to see a day where water is freely available to everyone, progress towards achieving SDG 6.3 is incredibly important.
Steps to success will also help to achieve the UN’s other SDGs on safe water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy and a variety of other health and well-being targets that are getting more and more difficult to achieve every year.
Waste Water Facts & Figures
According to the World Water Day factsheet, globally, over 80% of the wastewater that is generated by society manages to get back into the eco-system without making its way through a water treatment facility.
If you put that into the context of your own household, that’s 4-out-of-every-5 glasses of water you drink making their way back out and into the world, without so much as a glance at water treatments.
And that’s just the tip of the – pardon the watery pun – iceberg.
A 2014 study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) stated that 1.8 billion people make use of a water supply that is contaminated by faeces, putting almost a quarter of the planet’s population at risk of contracting cholera, typhoid, dysentery and polio.
Diseases such as these are a result of poor sanitation and hygiene and the use of unsafe water and – according to the WHO – they contribute to around 842,000 deaths every single year.
Today, around half of the world’s population live in cities and, by 2050, that figure is set to rise to 70%.
Now, you may think that more people living in cities is a good thing.
People that would otherwise have had to walk for miles to get their hands on a sustainable source of drinking water will now reside in cities in which water is readily available.
However, developing countries – where most of these newly populated cities are – simply don’t have the adequate infrastructure and resources to deal with the management of wastewater in a sustainable way.
It’s incredibly important that water is carefully managed during every last part of the water cycle: from when it is taken from the ground, through treatment, use and recollection; it has to be monitored to ensure safe use and prevent diseases like those mentioned above – otherwise we’d likely have something like The Black Death to contend with every single week.
The thing is, due to the huge increase in the global population, accelerated urbanisation and global economic development, the sheer quantity of wastewater that we are producing – and the pollution that comes with that – is increasing too.
Sadly, the management of wastewater is seriously inadequate and its usefulness is considerably undervalued as a potentially affordable and, more importantly, sustainable source of water, energy, nutrients and various other recoverable materials.
The problem is, our entire attitude to wastewater needs to change – from it being seen as a burden that we need to get rid of, to a resource that we can harness and make the most of instead.
It’s not like we don’t have the means to do that either.
There are many different treatment processes and operational systems in place that will help us to make proper use of wastewater in order to meet the (seemingly endless) demand for water in developing cities, enhance industrial development and energy production and make inroads into supporting sustainable agriculture that will benefit everyone.
Wastewater & The Big Smoke
It makes sense to assume that if the population is growing, the need for more water, food and a sustainable supply of energy is going to increase – it’s a supply and demand kind of a deal – the more people there are, the more stuff you’ll need to keep them fed and watered.
By 2030 (which is closer now than the year 2000 is!) the global demand for water is expected to increase by 50% or maybe even more.
This demand means that a fresh and innovative approach to collecting wastewater – and managing how we do so – is needed. Re-used water may also help to address other challenges too; including food production and industrial development.
The sad fact remains that in many under-developed countries – mainly in low-income towns and cities – a large proportion of wastewater is still being discharged directly into the closest surface water drain; often with little or no treatment taking place, whatsoever.
In addition to this growing amount of household waste, city hospitals and small-scale industries like mining firms and motor mechanics will often contaminate this water even further, by dumping toxic chemicals and medical waste into the wastewater system.
The infrastructure that’s in place just can’t deal with this kind of behaviour and even in places where wastewater is collected and treated, the efficacy of this treatment varies greatly dependent upon the system that is used.
More traditional wastewater treatment centres might not even remove some harmful pollutants, such as endocrine disruptors (they are nasty little things that can cause cancer, birth defects and other developmental disorders like Microcephaly), which can have a decidedly negative affect on the wellbeing of the local population as well as an area’s eco-system.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom, there are examples of water being reclaimed and repurposed around the globe.
For example, in Amsterdam, at the Schiphol Airport, the amount of wastewater produced is around the same amount that you may find coming out of a small city or a large town with a population of about 50,000.
About half of the airport’s wastewater originates from passengers and businesses at the airport with the remaining amount being produced by planes and other aviation related businesses.
The airport’s on-site wastewater treatment plant successfully purifies the water biologically before releasing it into local waterways in a state that is of a high enough quality to not make a difference.
Well done Amsterdam!
So Why World Water Day?
World Water Day began in 1993 after being proposed as an international day of celebration at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED).
The day is designed for countries to promote activities to highlight the importance of freshwater, share ideas, hold seminars and start discussions about the conservation and development of water resources.
WWD is designed to inspire people to take more time to learn and understand as much as they can about water-related issues, tell others about those issues and take definitive action to make a difference – more so in developing countries around the world.
As discussed above, 2017 is a year to focus on what we do with our wastewater, with the target of halving the amount of untreated wastewater, increasing water recycling and making more (safe) water available to the people.
Recycling and reusing water will make it work more for every last living thing on the planet, and it’s good for industry and agriculture too – meaning that waste water can be used for irrigation on farms, cooling systems and other such innovative ideas.
World Water Day @ BestHeating.com
To do our bit (which admittedly isn’t much this year because we got caught up with supporting Fuel Poverty Awareness and World Plumbing Day – sorry) we’re offering 15% OFF aluminium radiators.
“Why aluminium radiators?” I hear you cry. Well because they have a lower water content than steel and cast iron rads, heat up faster, are better for the environment and more efficient, making them better on your pocket and kinder to the world around you – perfect for World Water Day if you ask me.
If you’d like to find out more about aluminium radiators, check out our extensive guide on why they are the next big thing for UK homes.
Be sure to celebrate World Water Day where you can, stay safe and happy heating!