Most American’s live with the expectation that fresh water will continue to flow freely from their faucets. The reality is that environmental degradation, an aging water infrastructure, water scarcity, job instability, and the ability to provide food for a growing population are now pressing issues.
World Water Day
View four interactive maps that give an overview of some of the water challenges different parts of the world currently face.
Take a photographic journey from the crowded streets of Delhi, through the parched state of Rajasthan, and into the farmlands of north Gujarat to get a closer look at some of the many ways water affects the lives of millions of Indians every day.
As population grows and demand for food and products increase, so does our demand for water. But in the face of growing pressure on our water resources from depletion, pollution and climate change, we need to make more of what we have.
It is a unique challenge of our generation that many in the developing world have cellular phones and TVs, but lack reliable access to water. Odd, perhaps, given that water is marketed as essential for life, a human right, and heart rending pictures of women and children walking miles to fetch water are routinely flashed to tug at everyone’s heart strings.
“We would like to take on international problems, problems of development, problems in the United States, but have them done with academic content and interest. Instead of people being sent to random places, we would take engineering companies that have an interest in a particular region in solving a problem, and they would bring the problem to the students.”
Water is essential to human well-being and economic development. Today, however, water stress caused by inadequate farming practices, demographic pressure and pollution is creating unprecedented problems. Nowhere is this more visible than in the rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa. As the world celebrates World Water Day on the 22nd of March to draw attention to these issues, lessons learned from the Millennium Villages Project can provide a way forward. The project’s success in improving both water and food security are just some of the practical, science-based solutions that rural communities all over the world can use to extract themselves from poverty.
How can we overcome the main challenges we face in our urban wastewater systems today? Are there opportunities to improve sustainability in water treatment systems in US cities to support local food security?
US rice production dominates our consumption at over 90% (USDA, 2012), and the question is whether or not that choice is the best one for our water and our environment.
What are the implications of hydraulic fracturing on agriculture and food security? In agricultural areas with widespread, ongoing hydrofracking, there have been incidences of livestock poisoning from contaminated surface water sources or grasses, and soil contamination from explosions, spills, flares, irresponsible fracking-wastewater treatment, and leaky gas pipes.