Goal 6 of UN Sustainable Development Goals states “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” and target 6.1 is stated as “By 2030, universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all”. Access to safe drinking water has been a priority and a lot of works has been done in the past decade. 76 percent of the world population had access to safe drinking water in 1990 which increased to 89 percent in 2010. However, a large proportion of world population still doesn’t have access to improved sources of drinking water. One in ten people of the word are lacking safe water. Safe, acceptable and affordable water for personal and domestic uses has been recognized as a human right. Spatial and temporal variation of freshwater availability makes even distribution of water difficult.
Increasing population of the world increases pressure on water supply and distribution. Population or the number of water users affects the availability of safe water. Regions with abundant supply of water ten years ago have been converted to water stress regions. Water stress is the ratio of total withdrawals to total renewable supply. World Health Organisation estimated half of the world’s population living in water-stressed areas by 2025. Middle East countries, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Libya and Morocco are some of the regions with extremely high water stress and central African countries, Norway, Brazil, Bolivia, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Thailand have been categorised as low water stress countries.
Safe management of drinking water is vital to prevent water borne diseases. UN estimated 5.2 billion people using safely managed drinking water services in 2015, leaving 2.1 billion people to consume unsafe water particularly unprotected well and springs and untreated surface water from lakes, ponds, rivers and streams.
Various solution measures could be taken to tackle increasing water stress across the countries and continents. Building reservoirs is an option to tackle climatic anomalies and changing rainfall patterns however its cost effectiveness should be considered. Desalination, purifying sea water or salty water, is another potential option particularly useful for arid areas. More than 120 countries around the world including Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE and Spain have been using desalination plants to provide drinking water. Tampa Bay desalination plant of USA, Point Lisas, Trinidad and Almeria, Spain are some of the largest desalination plants. Desalination plant with a capacity to provide water to 1 million people has been established by Thames Water in London in 2010. Rainwater harvesting and other water conservation measure and water saving practices are potential measures to cope with water deficits.