Problems and Solutions
We live on a water planet: 70% of the earth’s surface is covered with water. But the vast bulk of that water, 97.5%, is salt water. The fresh water that humans need to live is far scarcer (not to mention all of the planet’s other plants and animals that cannot survive without fresh water.) Only 2.5% of the world’s water is fresh water.
And of that 2.5%, most of the world’s fresh water is not easily accessible or available. A minuscule 0.4% exists in surface lakes and rivers, and as humidity in the air. A whopping 69.5% is frozen in glaciers, snow, and permafrost. And another 30.1% is in underground aquifers.
Our events addressed some of these water issues, to read more please go to Our Impact.
The United Nations has long recognized that access to fresh water is brutally unequal. Almost one billion people, roughly one person out of every 8, do not have access to clean water. In December, 2003, the General Assembly proclaimed 2005-2015 as the International Decade for Action “Water for Life.”
On July 28, 2010, the General Assembly passed UN Resolution 64/292, The Right to Water and Sanitation, declaring that the United Nations: “Recognizes the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.” In the text of the resolution, the UN estimated that 884 million people lack access to safe drinking water, and that more than 2.6 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation. The United Nation’s figures show that unsafe water kills more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.
New Threats to Global Water Supplies
- Global warming—as burning fossil fuels heats up the atmosphere, local climates are changing, often for the worse. In some areas, rainfall is disappearing, raising the specter of drought and crop failures; and in other areas, abnormally heavy rainfall has produced catastrophic flooding.
- Fracking—at the very time when we should be reducing the burning of fossil fuels to slow down global warming, the world’s oil producers are rapidly expanding fracking. In order to produce more natural gas and oil, drillers are forcing millions of gallons of toxic-chemical-laden water down wells into rock formations at high pressure. There are virtually no regulations addressing fracking, but EPA scientists have already found contamination of underground water suppliesin one of the agency’s first investigations of the problem.
There is a huge amount of information online about our water problems, and how people are already hard at work solving them. In this section, you will find descriptions and links to organizations which analyze the challenges we face, and describe the solutions we need.
This list is not in any way intended to be exhaustive, and it is focused on U.S. and United Nations sources.
We are looking for good resources about water issues. These can be in any language. If we have left off an organization or a source that you think is important, simply check the button below and fill in the form that opens up.
Water Information & Resources
The links below will take you to external sites that are in no way affiliated with LIMS/Global Water Dances.
World’s leading youth water activism organization; with dozens of projects to build fresh water wells around the world, including a mission to bring clean water to the entire nation of Swaziland by the year 2022 (as a blueprint to use in other nations).
Practical Action is an international non-governmental organization that uses technology to challenge poverty in developing countries. Through technology they enable poor communities to build on their skills and knowledge to produce sustainable and practical solutions – transforming their lives forever and protecting the world around them. One of their areas of focus is urban water, sanitation and waste. Practical Action works with communities to get clean water for drinking, washing, cooking and agriculture – helping to improve sanitation and health.
International World Water Day — sponsored by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization on March 22 every year. The site includes reports from around the world on local initiatives that may provide inspiration and contacts for Global Water Dance events.
UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS) 2012 — provides further reason for vigilance: resources are neither targeted nor apparently sufficient to sustain routine operation and maintenance of water and sanitation services. Thus, there is a serious risk of slipping backwards on gains already made. The analysis emerging from UN-Water GLAAS also helps to identify the reasons behind the disparities in access to sanitation and drinking-water among different regions, communities and income groups.
The World’s Water Volume 7 — The Pacific Institute has been publishing this highly praised biennial review of the world’s freshwater resources for more than a decade. The Institute’s home page provides links to many other books and studies on freshwater.
Global Water Policy Project — Leading global freshwater expert and author Sandra Postel founded GWPP in 1994. The project fosters ideas and inspiration for redirecting society’s use and management of fresh water toward conservation and ecosystem health. Postel also works on these issues as a fellow of the National Geographic Society, where she is the lead water expert for the for the Society’s Freshwater Initiative.
Worldwatch Institute — Freshwater has been a core issue in Worldwatch’s analyses of global environmental issues since Lester Brown (see below) founded the Institute in 1974. In addition to publications dealing directly with freshwater, the Institute’s researchers have always emphasized the impact of water issues on other issues, like the role of water in the growing production of meat, or the impact of mining tar sands on streams and lakes.
Earth Policy Institute— Lester Brown (see Worldwatch Institute) has continued his pursuit of water issues at EPI, which he founded in 2001. His 2012 book, Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity, highlights many of the intimate links between the availability of fresh water and food production: more than half the world’s people live in countries where water tables are falling, largely because of over-pumping for irrigation.
Greenpeace Project Clean Water. In the Philippines, there is a community of water advocates and activists working together to increase awareness on the importance of public monitoring/reporting and community “right-to-know” in protecting our freshwater resources from industrial pollution cases. (Submitted by Haydee Illenberger)
Evergreen Environmental: The Unfiltered Truth About Water
This infographic educates people about why protecting and conserving water is important, and it reveals how many every day activities are to blame for water pollution. (Submitted by John at DBS Interactive)
Charity: water is a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations.
Case Studies in Bangladesh
A book by Shahid Mallick “River, Culture and Livelihoods: Water Pollution and Social Change Around the River Bangshi, Bangladesh: Water pollution and social change.” Water is key to human survival, development progressions and success. Therefore, one of essential topics is destruction of global fresh water source caused by pollution and other factors of human life activity.
“Industrialization, Water Pollution, and Social Change: A Case of Basin-Based Village in Bangladesh” a journal article on the disposal of untreated industrial waste into the open water body and rivers. Submitted by Shahid Mallick
Our waters: smoking’s impact on oceans, lakes, rivers, and bays – Smoking’s impact extends beyond the human condition, reaching the waters of our planet. Support is needed to maximize resources, to educate, and to bring about awareness. What most of the time goes unnoticed is that the chemicals found in a cigarette are also highly soluble in water, and can saturate a body of water with contaminants.
Water and Climate Change information and resources
UN-Water on Water and Climate Change—the start of the United Nations’ research on the relationship between freshwater and climate change.
Water @Climate Institute—good overview from an internationally-based climate change nonprofit.
Chasing Ice is the story of one man’s mission to change the tide of history by gathering undeniable evidence of our changing planet. Submitted by Anita Dutt.
Fracking information and resources
Fact Sheet on Fracking @Earthjustice — an introduction to fracking from a leading public interest legal group, including state-by-state reviews.
Fracking @SourceWatch–a well-documented review of the development of fracking and its associated environmental problems.
Gasland—Josh Fox’s award-winning documentary on his across-America investigation of fracking.
Arts and Environment information and resources
LinkedIn group for an institution to raise awareness of water issues through the arts. (Submitted by Arash)