Clean Water By Mason Fung

Part 1

Water is the foundation of life

Today nearly 1 billion people in the world suffer from the lack of drinkable water. Over the years, the abundance of clean water has declined due to challenges like pollution, lack of water management, and global warming.


Fresh water takes up less than three percent of Earth's water and remains our main source of drinkable water. Due to pollution, almost 40% of U.S rivers and 45% of lakes are polluted.

Rivers and streams remain the top water infrastructure with 2/3 being drinking water. This graph shows the amount of polluted fresh water in rivers, lakes, and salt marshes

From 1955-2005, the total amount of clean water including ground and surface water has decreased due to pollution

This chart shows the trends in surface-water, groundwater, and total-water withdrawals for the Nation from 1950 to 2010. Notice how the relative amounts of surface- and groundwater withdrawals (in percentages) has remained fairly constant. About three-fourths of the water used in America comes from surface water. This chart is remarkable because it shows that the Nation's water use peaked in 1980 and has been fairly steady since then


Water usage remains one of the main reasons for water scarcity. Water may be overused on people, animals, land, or recreational activities without anybody knowing about the major effects.

The United States remains the leading country with the amount of fresh water used per year.

The amount of water used per person in each country changes dramatically. The bar chart shows the total amount of water used per person in selected countries.

This graph shows the gradual increase in the consumption of water each year

Climate change is highly likely to increase the water demand while decreasing the water supply. This shifting balance would challenge water managers to simultaneously meet the needs of growing communities, sensitive ecosystems, farmers, ranchers, energy producers, and manufacturers.

Warmer temperature increases the rate of evaporation in the atmosphere, as a result allowing the increase of the atmosphere's capacity to "hold"water

As temperatures rise, people and animals need more water to maintain their health and thrive. Many important economic activities, like producing energy at power plants, raising livestock, and growing food crops, also require water. The amount of water available for these activities may be reduced as Earth warms and if competition for water resources increases.

Part 2

Today , people take accessible water for granted and waste it while people struggle to afford little tiny expensive water bottles. Therefore, to this day, the world suffers with a Agricultural crisis, Enviornmental Crisis and the Increase in tensions.

Agricultural Crisis

Due to water scarcity, the production of food is impacted while the population increases. Without water, people have no other options to water their crops, therefore not producing enough food for the growing population.

Today, 1.2 billion people or almost one-fifth of the world suffers from lack of physical water , while another 1.6 billion lives in a economic water crisis. This situation is expected to worsen as the global warming increases and the population continues to increase. In 2025, the world is estimated that 1.8 billion will fully live in a water scarcity environment, with almost half of the world living under the stress of water.

Map of the current world based off the water scarcity in each country

Environmental Crisis


Without smarter water resources management, a growing world with more people and more activities will demand more water and create more pollution, breaking the boundaries of sustainability of water resources utilization. This will be aggravated by the effects of climate change that is already impacting some of the planet’s most vulnerable rivers, lakes and ecosystems.
The amount of clean water invested in each category including agriculture,industries, energy,
Many of the water systems that keep ecosystems thriving and feed a growing human population have become stressed. Rivers, lakes and aquifers are drying up or becoming too polluted to use. More than half the world’s wetlands have disappeared. Agriculture consumes more water than any other source and wastes much of that through inefficiencies. Climate change is altering patterns of weather and water around the world, causing shortages and droughts in some areas and floods in others..

An Increase in Tension

As the struggle to find accessible water increases, the tension among different seekers begin to build. 260 river basins are shared between two or more countries. The changes within the basin could lead to serious boundary discussions T.his map depicts the stress levels ineach countrie due to water scarcity
Conflcits over water arise fRom rhe fact that under coNditions of increasing SCARCITY, competiton level also increases - Anthony TurtOn

As demand for water hits the limits of finite supply, potential conflicts are brewing between nations that share transboundary freshwater reserves. More than 50 countries on five continents might soon be caught up in water disputes unless they move quickly to establish agreements on how to share reservoirs, rivers, and underground water acquifers. The articles and analysis below examine international water disputes, civil disturbances caused by water shortages, and potential regulatory solutions to diffuse water conflict.

Smaller Challenges

Lack of clean water can rob children of health and education

HEALTH + Education

The lack of eductaion early in life often consigns children to poverty or dependeNce later in life

Lack of clean water in households causes millions of children in the developing world to suffer needlessly from disease, UNICEF said today, adding that millions of girls are deterred from getting an education because of a dearth of sanitation facilities in schools.

Waterborne illnesses that kill more than 1.6 million young children each year, while the lack of separate and decent sanitation facilities at schools often forces girls to drop out of primary school. Of the 120 million school-age children not in school, the majority are girls.

Millions of children suffer intestinal infections caused by parasites. Each year 19.5 million people are infected with roundworm and whipworm alone, with the highest rate of infection among school-age children. Also, each year, an estimated 118.9 million children under 15 suffer from schistosomiasis (bilharzia), a disease caused by parasitic flatworms. Parasites consume nutrients, aggravate malnutrition, retard children's physical development and result in poor school attendance and performance.

Part 3

South aFrica


South Africa is a country located at the Southern Tip of Africa. About twice the size of Texas it is home to 49 million people. This country has been stricken by affects from the long standing apartheid to the devastation that diseases such as HIV/AIDS and TB have caused. Now another crisis looms in the distance: Water. As more and more people migrate into cities from rural villages the pressure for the city to meet the water demands is ever increasing. The 30th driest country in the world


Climate Change

Rains that usually come and supply the country with water comes infrequently, while the country's temperature is replaced to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

“The total rainfall for last year, for this region, was the fourth lowest on record. The dams at the beginning of this year were on average 20 percent lower than at the start of 2010."
a 3.4°C increase in annual temperature (up to 3.7°C in spring), and a 23% decrease in winter rainfall, and a 13% decrease in spring. rainfall.

Poor Management and Sanitation

Nearly 50 percent of South Africa's tap water is being stolen, wasted or simply leaking away every year. The record-keeping and water-metering is so poor that some municipalities don’t even know how much water they are using, according to a new report commissioned by the Water Research Commission. This term includes water that leaks out of broken pipes and also water that is not paid for (but excludes the government’s free basic water allowance).

One report stated that in 2008 about 5 million people lack access to water and 15 million lack access to basic sanitation. This number has improved greatly since the end of apartheid in 1994, however these numbers are still too high and not one person should ever lack access to the most basic necessity of life, which is water.

This graph shows the amount of support South Africa has been given for their clean water and sanitation. Investments in South Africa have been declining.

Disease due to lack of Sanitation

Interestingly enough South Africa has one of the most clean water systems in the world, however due to the lack of sanitation and access in the country's rural communities the threat of water borne disease is steadily increasing. The Vaal River, the largest river in South Africa and popular tourist destination is becoming increasingly contaminated with fecal material due to the lack of sanitation supplies.

Recently, court-ordered contractors removed 20 tonnes of dead fish after a local NGO, Save the Vaal River Environment (SAVE), took the local Emfuleni municipality to court for leaking millions of litres of raw sewage into the river.


While dealing with water shortages, the local community has now been forced to buy well water from surrounding farms, starting at 1 cent a liter. Also distributing about 50 liters of water to each of Senekals 8,000 households at no cost. However, those who can't wait up to ten hours in a line, however, have been forced to buy water directly from the farmers at premium prices.

"One bad crop can put you back three or four years and now we have no crops." - Erasmus

South Africans, already facing a weak currency, will soon feel the effect of rising food prices as the country may have to import corn, Agricultural Minister Senzeni Zokwana warned on Monday.

This graph shows the decreasing of the production of wheat in South Africa due to the lack of water for their crops
"Albeit a water -strained country, South Africa has one of the most diverse economies in the world of the ecosystem in which it is embedded"- Dr.Anthony Turton

Turton noted that, by 2025, South Africa will have a total national water deficit of 2 044-million cubic litres of water, but is luckily in a position to manage it. “Currently, our sewage plants throughout the country are collapsing. We produce five-billion litres of sewage a year and only 20% of that is treated to a standard that makes it safe to be discharged back into rivers and lakes,” he said, reiterating that the water crisis is a fundamental problem within South Africa’s economy."

Conclusion: As the lack of clean water remains a global challenge in the world, it is most important to realize the consequences of this horrific event. If we don't emphasize enough on this topic, we won't be alive in the next 20 years. Therefore, we should focus our attention in developing new ways to produce clean water as well as the consideration of saving water.


Created with images by milpek75 - "barcelona water tap" • ravi khemka - "Polluted Malad Creek at Lokhandwala,Mumbai" • CraneStation - "Drought Stressed Corn 012" • ChadoNihi - "storm cloudscape above" • StateofIsrael - "Agriculture" • DFID - UK Department for International Development - "Providing clean water and sanitation"

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