Groundwater Pollution and Drinking Water Scarcity

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"By means of water, we give life to everything."

– Koran, 21:30

Drinking water is our most precious resource, something every human being needs to survive. Yet today over 1.2 billion people a day on average do not have access to drinking water. Even if they might have this access, the chances are good that the drinking water is polluted with many contaminants. In the future, we will probably find that clean drinking water will go to the highest bidder, and even more people will find themselves without easy access to drinking water.

Pollution of the world's water resources began to take a scary turn as industrialization took hold on the European continent. We can see similar effects of what happened in the past if we look to attitudes in developing countries today. The idea that "progress" must come first, and the environment has to take a back seat is a strong one in countries eager to improve their material standards of living. In the Western world, movements to clean polluted water systems usually slow in coming. The United States enacted a Clean Water Act in 1972, providing around 50 billion dollars to towns and cities in order to "make 100% of the nation's water safe for fishing and swimming." However, only 2/3 of that goal has been met. As the undisputed leader in the world, the U.S. has seemingly done much less than necessary to keep water systems, and ultimately the environment clean.

Water Pollution

There are two types of water pollution, direct and indirect contamination (also known as point, and non-point contamination). Direct contamination includes pollutants released into a water system directly from factories, homes, refineries, etc. Indirect contamination occurs when contaminants enter the system from the atmosphere (car emissions, factory smoke, etc.) through rainwater, or through the ground (such as pesticides and fertilizers). Though pollutants themselves are harmful to the environment, they usually contain nutrients such as nitrates and phosphates. The addition of these nutrients into water systems disrupts the natural balance, and ultimately leads to overgrowth. This overgrowth can clog waterways, and prevents light from reaching deep into the water, killing off life which was sustained at a deeper level. Much of this type of pollution comes from fertilizers, sewage, and organic livestock wast...

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...uman necessity. The idea of water privatization has been tossed around for years, but recently had become a reality for some in 3rd world countries. Deregulation of electricity, cable and telephone services has had mixed reviews, as the telephone enterprise seems to have worked out, we see with the recent California energy crisis of summer 2001, deregulation can lead to massive problems for everyone. In Bolivia, water privatization was met with violence when within a week of it occurring, water prices in Cochabamba doubled. This future movement to water privatization which is promoted by the IMF/World Bank will no doubt lead to an increase of water prices for the poorest in the world, while maintaining the status quo for those in the richest countries. Supporters of the programs believe that efficiency will be increased and at the same time will reduce the use of water by putting a higher price on it. It remains to be seen if the future will bring about a solution to this developing notion of water distribution. However, what is clear is that there is a movement to make water a resource which is owned by companies, and will no longer be in control of governments/the public.
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