… Currently over one billion people do not have access to safe drinking water and sanitation, and more than one million children die each year of diseases caused by unsafe water and lack of sanitation — Water for Life fact sheet
As water scarcity grows, so too will these numbers. The quality of water around the world is threatened by agricultural and industrial pollution and by over-use. Water today is increasingly being claimed as private property, leading to even greater ecologically disastrous and socially inequitable uses of water.
How did this crisis develop? From over-population, industrialization and pressures from the global marketplace. Since 1980 international lenders have urged governments in many parts of the world to privatize national resources. With the strain on government funding, many nations have followed this advice.
Here in the United States, lakes, streams and groundwater have been contaminated by industrial and agricultural uses.
… In parts of the United States, China and India, groundwater is being consumed faster than it is being replenished, and groundwater tables are falling. Water use has increased six fold in the 20th Century — Water for Life fact sheet
Government policies that reward intensive farming and the draining of wetlands must be re-examined. Government and citizens in many towns and municipalities will continue to grapple with the cost of restoring sewers, replacing 19th century infrastructure and updating water treatment. Corporations argue about their responsibility for clean-up.
Minnesotans have become more protective of their water in recent years: the battle to clean iron ore tailings in Lake Superior, the new efforts to measure contamination in the Minnesota River, to protect the natural springs near Highway 55, and to separate the storm water system from the sewer system in St. Paul. In Minneapolis and St. Paul we worry about the effects of arsenic and other industrial contamination in area lakes and wells.
The United Nations General Assembly, in December 2003, proclaimed 2005 – 2015 the International Decade for Action, Water for Life to promote efforts to fulfill international commitments made on water and water-related issues. This includes the Millennium Development Goal to reduce by half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water by 2015. March is Women’s History Month and World Water Day is in March.