The lack of potable water and availability of water for agriculture use will contribute to the cause of conflicts between nations.
In order to avoid conflicts over water, other actions have to be taken:
Government regulations of the water resource make everyone use water wastefully. Agricultural water subsidies encourage farmers to waste water.
The effect of this trend will make it harder for poor people to obtain water. Water quality is affected by contaminants such as hormones,
pesticides and drugs.
Countries in Latin America & the Caribbean
Water purification is a major problem in most urban areas. The laws are not effective and people are not educated to be efficient in the use of water.
Water conflicts are unavoidable in Mexico, Sao Paulo, Bogota, and Buenos Aires. Attempting to resolve water problems would require:
* moving population to middle-sized cities
* research and development in biotechnology and applied sciences focusing on problems related to food, health and environment
* educating the public on the efficient use of water and the protection of water resources
Almost half of the African population does not have access to freshwater. Many cities have no running water. Several factors affect
the water resource: siltation, desert encroachment, tribal wars, and high population growth. Water conflicts are unavoidable.
Western Europe has no major water problems. The EU manages water issues. Organic farming is becoming more popular because it costs less
than removing farm chemicals from water supplies. Most of the current water distribution infrastructure needs replacing. In Eastern Europe nations,
mining and timber industries affect water quality. Water mismagement is a major problems everywhere. Russia has even abolished its
environmental protection agency.
Asia & Oceania
Japan developed the technology to change seawater into drinking water. Nations of the Middle East are buying their technology. Israel and other nations produce
water through desalination. Water in the Middle and Near East has shrunked substantially and water conflicts are unavoidable. Australia and New Zealand have no
major problem with water. Rivers of Asia have 20 times the standard levels of suspended solids, and the region is responsible for over 60% of the world's
ocean-damaging, ecosystem-destroying sediment flows. Water problems in China are increasingly alarming. China has 22% of the world's population
and has to survive on only 7% of the world's total freshwater resources. Today, there are more than 300 major Chinese cities plus 50 million
people in rural areas facing water shortage. More education is needed to explain to the Chinese people that polluted water causes illness
which in turn increases health costs and hinders development.
For centuries we have found it necessary to control water so as to have
it where we wanted it.
Despite our efforts, some areas still suffer from drought, and
some from flood, due partly to the nature variability of climate to change fast than it used to, and this is now impacting on the availability and distribution of water. Our fresh water sources are already being used and yet, the world population is increasing rapidly. This increase in population and the increase of pollutants in our drinking water sources have created conflicts which will only become more and more serious in the near future. In many places in the world drinking water sources
are rare, sometimes non-existant, and sometimes were polluted by transnational corporations from our industrialized world and which companies became rich by mining or manufacturing products in those countries. Should anyone be allowed to control our freshwater resources? Is freshwater a 'human right' or is it a 'human need'? Should water resources be privatized and commodified for profit?
Or should water be declared a 'human right' in the Charter of the Global Community? Is it no true that water
is just as important to an individual as the air we breathe?
Freshwater is needed and is a human right. So is clean air! The Scale of Human and Earth Rights shows how and where these rights should be included
with respect to all other human rights.
Because of an ever-increasing global population and of human impacts on the natural environment, freshwater resources have become essentials to human life and to all life in Earth. There is an urgent need to protect these resources and for integrated
understanding of lakes, wetlands and flowing waters.
Fresh water or drinking water is vital to
life on Earth. Only 2.5 per cent of all water on Earth is fresh water most of which lies deep and frozen in Antarctica
and Greenland. What we drink comes mostly from groundwater, rivers and
lakes. Precipitation, melt water from glaciers, dew and fog drip constantly
replenish our fresh water resources. They are also constantly depleted by
evaporation and transpiration. These water resources are changing due to the the
variations in the hydrological cycle from place to place and from day to day.
They are all what we have got. Nothing else! They are very precious to all
humankind, and to all life as well.
Water in the home comes from either spring water, a deep well,
a river or a city reservoir, and is never 'pure'. If water was untreated, it would contain man-made contaminants, minerals, gases, salts, and microorganisms, which would cause unacceptable taste or health risks. Hazardous compounds present in water are mercury, lead, agricultural chemicals, arsenic, organochlorine compounds formed by the chlorine added to municipal water to destroy microorganisms, industrial pollutants, solvents,
pesticide, fertilizer, and other contaminants. Our body absorbs equally these contaminants through drinking water or while bathing. City water is regulated for
health hazards and does not contain dangerous bacterial contamination. It may contain chemical contaminants from industrial discharge or hazardous waste disposal, vinyl chloride from P.V.C. plastic pipe.
Most people take for granted the water we use to wash the car,
to water the lawn, cook and flush our wastes away, to shower, do half-loads of laundry, run the water while brushing our teeth, and ignore a dripping tap, and dump down the drain motor oil, solvents, paints, cleaners. We treat oceans, rivers, lakes, and streams more like parts of our sewer system them our life-support system. We are being
made use to this behavior from childhood while watching television. We often see commercials on TV showing a person washing an automobile or spraying a lawn wastefully and without care. There is also too much violence shown on television and in cinemas,
and nothing in the movies is aimed at educating people on the proper respect for water. We think it is right, our right to be as we are. The entire television networks and film makers and producers over the world should be re-educated in what is right and what is not. They should be responsible and be made accountable for the
counter-educating commercials and products they are advertising
on their networks. What the school system is doing in educating children is being negated by the television networks and film making industry. It is counter-productive and, at the end, the costs hit the taxpayers at home, one way or the other. The Polluter-pays Principle should apply to television networks and film making industry. They may use Human Rights for their defence but they should pay all the costs of the impacts of their advertisings and mindless production. They create behavioral patterns in the
general population from childhood and they should be billed big time.
Here is a school project. Ask your students to write thousand of lines for their preferred actors. The idea is to write a line, say five seconds long,
the actor could say during a movie or on TV. In a one hour show, the actor could say between five to ten different lines you have writen. These lines would be related
to the protection and proper management of the Earth, its life-support system, the ecosystems and the environment. You could also try to send the lines to the actors.
As individuals, we can make changes in our ways of using water
and dispose of wastes, both inside our homes and outdoors, and find ways to conserve and protect our water supplies. Water conservation is a means to ensure that there will be enough water for future generations.
Good quality of water supplies to satisfy our lifestyle carries
a price tag defined here:
P(water) = P(storing)
+ P(distributing) + P(treatment)
P(maintaining and operating) +
where P(e,h) is the term representing the associated environmental
and health price tags i.e. the impacts on the environment and our health.
The costs of obtaining, storing, heating, distributing water are
steadily increasing, and so are the environmental and health impacts associated with those costs. The costs for treating wastewater to make it suitable to return to river systems are equally increasing and many communities now charge residents an extra fee for treating wastewater. Consumption rates vary largely from one community to
another, and between urban and rural areas. Some communities have been forced to restrict water consumption for short periods of time.
There should always be a responsibility by government for certain essentials such as protection over water. Management and ownership of water should never be
handed over to private control. Deregulation and privatization of essentials must stop and never be included in international treaties
such as the NAFTA, FTAA, GATS and WTO. Transnational companies would be considered as "investors" and the projects they operate would be
an investment under these treaties. These companies would have the advantage in overwhelming the local authorities (all levels of government)
and they would be allowed to request compensation of any action or decision that diminishes their profitability. Any action by a municipality or a local
community to ensure safe drinking water standards, any remedial orders of health officials and any effort by a local community to provide
local economic benefits are all subject to compensation awards in millions or even billions by a WTO Tribunal for loss of profit.
Fresh water resources and clean air are at least if not more important to every human being than any other human rights ever listed in any charter of any society. If there was a scale of values to be drawn where would you insert these two human rights?
Human rights are those that individuals have by virtue of their very
existence as human beings:
to live, eat, drink fresh water, breath fresh air, have shelter. Just as human beings have
human rights, they also have moral, legal responsibilities and related
accountabilities. Every person needs Oxygen to live so clean air is
certainly a primordial human right by our very nature. A large part of our body
is made of water and we could not live without water; therefore water is also a
primordial human rights by our very nature.
Fresh water resources and clean air are
therefore proposed to be categorized as human rights.
Human actions constantly modify the hydrological cycle and also
constantly pollute available water. The hydrological balance is changed by:
* Land use change
* Removal of trees
* Removal of vegetative cover
* Expansion of paved areas
* Building of dams
* Building of channels
* Building of inter-basin transfers
A Water Resources Assessment is
a prerequisite for sustainable development and management of a country's water
resources. It provides the basis for a vast range of activities:
* Domestic and industrial water supply
* Hydropower production
* Irrigation and drainage
* Maintenance of human health
* Mitigation of flood losses
* Preservation of the aquatic ecosystem
* New legislation and regulations
* Strategies and policies that deal
with priority of uses and resolution of conflicts
The existing and future uses of water are
constantly challenged; balancing supply and demand is made even harder by the
amounts of pollution found in the air, land and waters. Pollution is widespread
and people are dying because of it. As soon as more pollution is added into the
fresh water systems than people and all life die. This is true even with the
best system in the world. We live on the edge. Rainwater could carry pollution
to the fresh water supply, and it is too late.
Today there are a multitude of pollution sources
and just to name a few:
* Animal manure
* Discharge from industrial processes
* Drainage from mines and industrial wastes
* Leaching of the residues of fertilisers and
pesticides used in agriculture
* Acid rain
* Oil spills from ships
* Storm water systems from cities carry
* Gulf courses upstream or near a lake
* Untreated sewage
* Leakage from oil storage tanks
* Many of the 100,000 or so commercial
chemicals employed in the world today create difficulties as a lot of them
are released into aquatic ecosystems
* Wet and dry deposition of materials
transported through the atmosphere and which originate from emissions made
in industrial areas and from motor vehicles
Water pollution varies in severity from one
region to the next depending of the density of urban development, agricultural
and industrial practices and the presence or absence of systems for collecting
and treating the waste waters.
It is necessary to measure the water's quality,
quantity and biological characteristics in every country. A lot of the data in
the global hydrological network dedicated to measuring these elements are
missing. It is non-existent in most developing countries. Data on water use are
Global demand for water is rising. The rise will
accelerate into the future because the world population is expected to reach 8.2
billion by the year 2024.
Despite the efforts of worldwide organizations to
improve the water services of the developing countries, in 1995 some 20 per cent
of the globe's population of 5.7 billion people still lacked a safe and reliable
water supply, and 50 per cent were without adequate sanitation. Lack of these
services is the basic reason why more than a billion people live in poverty.
Even though regulations have been imposed by
governments in the industrialized countries to protect their nations' water
resources, people are still dying. This is due to the fact that regulations are
not enforced as well as they should, regulations are not tough enough, and
people dont care and often challenge them their own ways. We basically live on
the edge. No safety net!
Human health is dependent on a wholesome and
reliable supply of water and safe sanitation. It has been estimated that at any
given time about half the people living in developing countries are suffering
from water-related diseases caused directly by infection, or indirectly by
disease-carrying organisms that breed in water. Diarrhoea. infections by
parasitic worms, river blindness and malaria are among the most widespread of
these diseases. More than five million people are estimated to die each year
from diseases related to inadequate sanitation and hygiene practices, and
drinking polluted water.
In the developed world there is concern about the
health effects of exposure to various chemicals in drinking water. Pollutants
can build up in shellfish to the point that they harm the people who eat
The effects of pollution on wildlife are better
observed: death, population decline, reduced success of hatching, birth defects
for the birds, fish and other forms of life in rivers, lakes, wetlands and
The Water Scarcity Index is the water use
as a percentage of the available water resource. It can be shown
that the margin between the global available resource and the volume of water
used is going to diminish in the future. Population growth is the major factor.
By the year 2024, the regions of stress will include two thirds of the world's
population. By 2050, they will cover most of the globe. As the crisis approaches
and as water resources become scarcer, the risk of conflict over them will
become greater. After 2024, climate change will make conditions worse if
precipitation amounts decrease in the major food producing regions and
evaporation rates increase. With 50 per cent more people to feed than in 1999,
the volume of water needed for food production is expected to increase by 50 to
100 per cent. The bulk of the increase in food production will come from
irrigation which, in turn, will require more money to be spent on long distance
water transfers and dams. There will be greater competition for these waters.
The cost of water will certainly rise.
In order to avoid conflicts and wars over water,
The Earth Community Organization is proposing to make water at the top of its
agenda. Better understanding and much more data are needed. All nations need to
assess their water resources and make projections for the future. Water
resources must be managed. We propose here to make fresh water a human right.
We have also discussed the human need for clean air in the article on Climate Change, the Proceedings of the World Congress,
and in previous Newsletters. There are more than enough
facts that show solid proof for the nedd to make clean air a human right as well.