The environment has a natural absorptive, self-cleansing capacity. However, if this is exceeded, biodiversity is lost, livelihoods are affected, natural food sources (e.g. fish) are damaged and high clean-up costs result.
Environmental damage is leading to increased natural disasters, with floods increasing where deforestation and soil erosion are preventing natural water attenuation.
Table 1 summarizes the pressures to which freshwater ecosystems are subjected and the potential impacts on systems at risk.
Table 1: Pressures of Freshwater Ecosystem
Why Water and Waste Management?
Water has always played a prominent role in human civilization. When people first began settling in one place and growing crops for sustenance, it was invariably near water sources like rivers, lakes, or groundwater springs.
Water was needed for drinking, preparing food, bathing, cleaning, irrigating crops, and a variety of other tasks, so it was important to have ready access to this resource. The following are the reasons to justify water and waste management:
Water abstraction for domestic use, agricultural production, mining, industrial production, power generation, and forestry practices can lead to deterioration in water quality and quantity that impact not only the aquatic ecosystem (i.e., the assemblage of organisms living and interacting together within an aquatic environment), but also the availability of safe water for human consumption.
The water sources used for supplying water are not always clean and treating drinking water to improve smell, taste, clarity, or to remove disease-causing pathogens has occurred in one form or another throughout recorded history.
Providing safe and secure water to people around the world, and promoting sustainable use of water resources are fundamental objectives of the Millennium Development Goals.
The preservation of aquatic resources for ecosystem and human health and well-being is a paramount concern worldwide and it has become evident that approaches to managing aquatic resources must be undertaken within the context of ecosystem dynamics in order that their exploitation for human uses remains sustainable.
80% of sickness in the world is caused by inadequate water supply or sanitation.
40% of the world population does not have access to safe drinking water.
It is estimated that water-borne diseases kill 25,000 people per day.
In many populated areas of the world, water-borne diseases represent the leading cause of death.