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Upstream waste disposal in one country degrades water entering downstream countries and can be a source of tension. Agricultural uses of water are essential for farming, but can wreak havoc on water quality.
The Colorado River, for example, has carried increasingly saline water due to agriculture from the U.S. to Mexico, causing heavy crop losses in the Mexicali Valley where 78 percent of all irrigated crops in Mexico are grown. The U.S. has agreed to reduce the level of salinity, but at a heavy cost—around $225 million. The Yuma desalination plant was built to deal with this and it has operated a few times—it works acceptably.
“More than 3.4 million people die each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related causes. Nearly all deaths, 99 percent, occur in the developing world.
Lack of access to clean water and sanitation kills children at a rate equivalent of a full jumbo jet crashing every four hours.
Of the 60 million people added to the world's towns and cities every year, most move to informal settlements (i.e., slums) with no sanitation facilities.
780 million people lack access to an improved water source; approximately one in nine people.
Key sources that we tap for drinking water are being overdrawn or tainted with pollution
The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns.
An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the average person in a developing country slum uses for an entire day.
Over 2 and a half times more people lack water than live in the United States.
More people have a mobile phone than a toilet.”
(Source: Millions lack safe water)
We rely on clean water to survive, yet right now we are heading towards a water crisis
The pollution and acid rain implications for forests and streams and for humans, fish, and wildlife depending on them are severe
“Clean and plentiful water provides the foundation for prosperous communities. We rely on clean water to survive, yet right now we are heading towards a water crisis. Changing climate patterns are threatening lakes and rivers, and key sources that we tap for drinking water are being overdrawn or tainted with pollution. Natural Resources Defense Council experts are helping to secure safe and sufficient water for people and the environment by:
- Promoting water efficiency strategies to help decrease the amount of water wasted;
- Protecting our water from pollution by defending the Clean Water Act and advocating for solutions like green infrastructure;
- Helping prepare cities, counties and states for water-related challenges they will face as a result of climate change; and
- Ensuring that waterways have enough water to support vibrant aquatic ecosystems.”
Polluting a stream