Water quality under threat

Unless we find a different way of tackling wastewater management, the world could soon be facing severe water quality issues, a new study has found.

Researchers at Utrecht University examined how achieving the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to halve the proportion of untreated wastewater entering the environment by 2030 would affect the world’s river water quality.

They found that this alone would not be enough, as even if the goal was achieved, water quality issues would continue to persist in some areas of the globe.

Clean water is essential to life, but is increasingly under threat due to population growth, economic development and the climate crisis.

Each year, an estimated 829,000 people worldwide die from diarrhoea after using contaminated water for drinking or sanitation purposes.

The research team have developed a high-resolution global water quality model to help fills in gaps of water quality knowledge, especially in places where observations are lacking.

As well as helping to identify problem areas for water quality, the research team said it can also identify the source of pollution.

However, finding a solution to this issue is more difficult and is likely to be expensive too, but is vital to protect both personal and environmental health.

Even achieving the current SDG target will pose serious economic challenges, as expansion of wastewater treatment can be an expensive process.

Yet the cost disadvantages of inadequate water quality for sectoral uses must also be considered. Ultimately, however, we also need to reduce our pollutant emissions and develop new approaches towards wastewater management.

The research team through their paper hope to underline the water quality problems the population is facing and firmly place these issues back on the political agenda.’