Water in Use

Water is used for many different things. Just think about it. You need water for: showering, brushing your teeth, cooking and cleaning, making tea, going to the bathroom, swimming, watering the plants, etc. And not just any water will do. You need clean water for all of these activities. However, naturally “clean” water is not so easily found in the Netherlands, and the same applies to countless regions throughout the world.

A rare resource

Water is a strategic resource for many countries; various conflicts have arisen because of it, such as the conflict between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia on the distribution of the Nile River’s water. Experts predict more trouble ahead because of the world's mounting population and increasing contamination through pollution and global warming. UNESCO's World Water Assessment Program Development Report (WWDR, 2003) indicates that, over the next 20 years, the quantity of water available to the world’s population is predicted to decrease by 30%. Of the world's inhabitants, 40% currently have insufficient freshwater for even minimal hygiene. More than 2.2 million people died in 2000 from diseases related to the consumption of contaminated water or drought. In 2004, the UK charity WaterAid reported that every 15 seconds one child dies due to water-related diseases that could have been easily prevented.

This chapter describes water use for drinking water and agriculture, as well as for fishery; and the possibilities of re-using waste water. Special emphasis is put on water quality and treatment, since the quality determines the possible uses.