The world is facing an unprecedented crisis from the lack of safe drinking water. The World Economic Forum has identified drinking water scarcity as a top societal risk in each annual Global Risk Report over the past five years.
The water crisis is a convergence of factors.
First, only one percent of the total global water supply is accessible fresh water. This finite supply is being drained by a world population that now exceeds 7.4 billion. Second, toxic contaminants, including micropollutants, are responsible for the ongoing degradation of much of the worlds existing fresh water supply.
Many communities are now facing Day Zero - the day water supplies are so depleted that authorities are forced to shut off access to public water supplies to ration remaining resources. Day Zero restrictions can also be triggered by contamination. In recent years, drinking water supplies in several U.S. communities have been turned off under states of emergency because of chemical contamination. This has necessitated importing bottled water as an emergency response..
Avoiding tap water.
Hundreds of millions of consumers around the world (including 65% of Americans) no longer trust the safety of their drinking water due to contamination fears. As a result, many consumers have installed their own water filtration systems. Many more have turned to bottled water as their primary source of drinking water, growing it into a $260 billion global market.
Bottled water is not a viable long-term solution.
In most cases, bottlers source their water from local water supplies, often exposing consumers to the same contaminants found in their tap water - but at a cost as much as 2,000 times higher than tap water. In addition, recent reports have called attention to the presence of microplastics in bottled water being sold by several major brands. Bottled water also creates serious environmental problems. In addition, recent reports have called attention to the presence of microplastics in bottled water being sold by several major brands. Bottled water also has a negative water footprint, as the industry uses three times the amount of fresh water to produce one bottle than it does to fill it.
Every year, 1.2 trillion gallons of stormwater, industrial runoff wastewater, and sewage are dumped into freshwater sources throughout the United States.
Every year, most of the two billion pounds of pesticides used in the United States ends up in fresh water sources.
In 2016, a Harvard study found PFASs, a harmful chemical substance, present in water from 33 of the 50 states.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 44% of assessed stream miles and 64% of lakes in the U.S. are not clean enough for fishing and swimming.
According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 40 states have at least one region that's expected to face a water shortage in the next 10 years.
The world's supply
of fresh water does
The same amount exists today as existed millions of years ago. Except now, 7.4 billion people depend on it to live.
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