Learn How access to Clean Water
It is not adequate to only have access to water; people need access to water for drinking and domestic use that is safe — also known as clean water. Clean water is safe water.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) is a science organization created by Congress in 1879. The USGS provides impartial information about the state of our ecosystems and environment, threatening natural hazards that jeopardize our lives and livelihoods, and more.
The USGS defines clean, safe water as “water that will not harm you if you come in contact with it.” When we’re talking about clean water, we are often referring to drinking water, but it is also essential that water for all domestic use is clean. Domestic use of water includes water used indoors and outdoors for activities including:
- Food preparation
- Brushing teeth
- Washing dishes
- Washing clothes
- Cleaning the home
- Watering crops
The Benefits of Clean Water
The science is evident; access to clean water is beneficial for individuals and communities. In part, it impacts health, the economy, the safety of women and girls, and education.
Health impact: One human being dies from dirty water every ten seconds. That means by the time you finish reading this article, 20 people — mostly children — will have lost their lives from waterborne illnesses. These are lives that would be saved if they had access to clean water.
Clean water prevents not only deaths but also severe illnesses that cause painful cramping, diarrhea, vomiting, fevers, and other symptoms. Dirty, unsafe water that’s laden with feces and bacteria leads to waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever, dysentery, Escherichia coli, and salmonella.
Another health impact of clean water is improved sanitation, which is an effective way to prevent the spread of diseases. But, according to a report by UNICEF and the World Health Organization, 4.5 billion people do not have safely managed sanitation. Imagine washing your fruits and vegetables with dangerous bacteria before you eat them or having to defecate outside. This is the stark reality for far too many people, and this could be eliminated with improved sanitation from access to clean water.
Health would also be positively impacted because women and children wouldn’t be walking several hours every day carrying 44-pound jugs of water and their spines and knees over the long-run.
Economic impact: Clean water has a positive economic impact on families and communities.
Clean water means income-earners in the family can continue to work because they don’t get sick or die from waterborne illnesses. Access to clean water also means improved crops from which families earn incomes. Improved agriculture means healthier people, and healthy people can contribute financially to a family and the entire community.
When children spend time receiving an education in school, instead of collecting water, it opens doors to more opportunities and a brighter future. UNICEF reports that globally, 31% of schools lack adequate sanitation and clean water.
In a culture where we have the option to stay out of unsafe environments, it’s nearly impossible to fathom putting ourselves in grave danger to get water to drink or go to the bathroom. Women and girls worldwide don’t have that luxury and spend 200 million hours every day looking for water and 266 million hours every day looking for a place to go to the bathroom because they don’t have toilets at home. They risk being attacked or kidnapped every single day. Safety becomes invaluable when clean water systems are available in their communities.
Despite all these benefits of clean water, some pose arguments against the efforts.