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Rainwater Harvesting systems in South Africa .

Sick water kills millions

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 22 March 2010

The statistics are stark: Globally, two million tons of sewage, industrial and agricultural waste is discharged into the world’s waterways and at least 1.8 million children under five years-old die every year from water related disease, or one every 20 seconds.

Transforming wastewater from a major health and environmental hazard into a clean, safe and economically-attractive resource is emerging as a key challenge in the 21st century.

It is a challenge that will continue to intensify as the world undergoes rapid urbanization, industrialization and increasing demand for meat and other foods unless decisive action is taken says a new United Nations report released today.

Urban populations are projected to nearly double in 40 years, from current 3.4 billion to over six billion people – but already most cities lack adequate wastewater management due to aging, absent or inadequate sewage infrastructure.

The new report, called Sick Water?, says some two million tons of waste, estimated to equal two or more billion tons of wastewater is being discharged daily into rivers and seas spreading disease to humans and damaging key ecosystems such as coral reefs and fisheries.

Wastewater is a cocktail of fertilizer run-off and sewage disposal alongside animal, industrial, agricultural and other wastes.

The report says that the sheer scale of dirty water means more people now die from contaminated and polluted water than from all forms of violence including wars. Dirty water is also a key factor in the rise of de-oxygenated dead zones that have been emerging in seas and oceans across the globe.

Read the UNEP News Release
Read the full report (PDF 6mb)

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