Access to Drinking Water By Marielle Caponas

Access to drinking water and quality


Australia is the driest inhabited continent on Earth, and is the world’s highest consumers of water. Australia is ranked fourth-highest in water use per capit. Globally one billion people do not have access to safe drinking water whereas in Australia 93% of households are connected to main town water supply outlet. The main sources of our drinking water comes from dams, groundwater bores and rivers. Rain water tanks are common in Australia as 16% of Australian household sources their drinking water from rainwater tanks. This reliance increased to 66% in South Australia as 1 in 10 household rely on it as their main access of drinking water. Purchased bottle is very commonly used as a main source of drinking water in Australia. One in five households (21%) purchased bottled water. The drinking water quality in Australia is considered high by the worlds national standards. Overall in Australia there has been a steady increase in the quality of drinking water as in 1994 it was 64% to 2004 up to 70%.


India has the highest number of people in the world without access to safe water especially for drinking. Drinking water supply in India continues to be inadequate despite efforts by the government and communities at improving its standards. There are 1.25 billion people in India and 75.8 million of them lack access to clean drinking water. Majority of the people that don’t have access to drinking water come from poor communities that earn $4.31 a day and are forced to collect dirty water from open rivers which can be the distances of over 1.6km away from their home.

Issues faced with access to drinking water and quality


The mismanagement of Australia’s water supply has lead to a decline of safe water quality. This means the inadequacy, pollution and salinity are main issues of concern regarding safe and healthy quality drinking water. South Australia’s reliance on their main source of drinking water coming from rainwater tanks decreased from 33% in 2001 to 26% in 2004. For people in remote communities there has been reported that the access to drinking water has been contaminated with uranium and other nitrates that lie above the recommended levels of sufficient water quality.


India is facing a water shortage with drought, rivers are becoming very polluted and groundwater declines. This leads people in urban areas who don’t receive water from piped networks having to purchase water from private sellers which can be very expensive. This water can be contaminated with chemicals or sewage and leads to lack of hygiene and diseases. The World Bank has estimates that 21% of diseases in India are due to unclean water. And over 500 children under 5 die each day from it alone. The poor management, vague laws, and human waste have cause a massive water crisis in India which is leading India towards a very vulnerable future of water stress. This crisis affects agriculture and industrial challenges.

Management plans for access to drinking water


Management plans in Australia to increase access to drinking water and improving its quality include:

- Enforcing water restrictions on water usage is an effective method to improving and decreasing high amounts of water consumption. We can see that these regulations have reduced considerably the amount of water people use in Sydney alone.

- A few sustainable methods of water management also include rainwater tanks and recycling sewage in domestic consumption

- In 2004 'National Water Initiative' was implemented which is the federal government's agenda for water reform on a country-wide scale. This initiative is to ensure that the river water and groundwater sources that are used for drinking are healthy and the use for them are not only safe but also sustainable.

Water tank


A number of approaches in India are being initiated to improve water supply and sanitation.

- In 2003 played a big role in improving India’s water supply. There were loans of $133.7 million provided which helped 3.4 million people access clean drinking water.

- There were community-led total sanitation, a public and private partnerships which helped improve urban water supply

Warragamba dam – Australia

Warragamba Dam is Sydney's largest drinking water catchment. It is 9,050 square kilometres. Supplies water to more than 3.7 million people in Sydney and in the lower Blue Mountains. When the dam is full it holds 2.6 million megalitres of water. More than 80% of Sydney's water comes from Warragamba Dam. The water comes from the COxs and Wollondilly rivers which flow into Warragamba Dam, which is one of the worlds largest water supplies. WaterNSW manages the dams untreated water supply, WaterNSW supplies high quality raw water that is then treated to Australian drinking water guidelines.

The 1998 Sydney water crisis involved the suspected contamination by the microscopic pathogens cryptosporidium and giardia of the water supply system of Greater Metropolitan Sydney, between July and September 1998. – management they had to boil water during this period to rid of pathogens. - Now they do a lot of water quality tests frequently so that the water is always safe and clean for drinking in Sydney

When drought has affected the dam as in March 1983 the lake reached a low of 45.4%. As the New South Wales State Government tried to reduce this risks of drought they implemented water restrictions such as fines.

Some facts: The dam is made out of concrete and took 12 years to build, it holds about 4 times more water than Sydney harbor and accounts for 8-% of Sydney’s water supply. After heavy rain and the lake begins to get full, water is released down the spillway which was completed in 2002 for protection from an extreme flood.

Warrangamba Dam

Salaulim Dam – India

Salaulium Dam is located on the Zuari River, India and used for irrigation and drinking water in India. The dam is 42.7m and has the potential to have water supply of 160 million liters per day.

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