Traditionally, freshwater has come from rivers, lakes, streams, and groundwater aquifers. As demand increases and climate change alters the location and timing of water supply, these traditional sources are becoming unavailable, more difficult, or increasingly expensive to develop. As a result, many communities are switching to alternative sources of water, including rainwater, stormwater, greywater, reclaimed water, and brackish and seawater desalination.
Expectations for businesses to respect and in some cases help fulfill internationally recognized human rights have increased over the past decade. In turn, businesses also recognize how important appropriate management systems are in order to respond to these expectations and to protect core resources needed in their own business practices.
Surface water and groundwater are not always static in their natural reservoirs. The water particles are always moving either vertically, laterally, or a combination of both through the banks and bottom of the reservoirs.
In the past two decades, water privatization — turning over some or all of the assets or operations of a public system to a private company — has been growing rapidly, as has concern and opposition to privatization.
Solving water challenges worldwide cannot be achieved through policy responses alone. Indeed, complementary sustainability strategies rely on economic tools (i.e., market-based instruments) that incentivize voluntary improvements in practice.
Companies around the world increasingly recognize the risk that water scarcity, pollution, and weak water governance have to their core business. They are beginning to acknowledge the need to manage water as a key input to production and better address the ways in which their water use and wastewater discharge can affect nearby ecosystems and communities.
It is everyone’s wish to be able to wake up each day and turn on a tap that provides a safe, constant source of drinking water, but this does not happen in the lives of nearly one billion people who live without access to potable water. With no option, they rely on polluted surface and groundwater sources which are also the main sources of water-related disease such as diarrhea, typhoid, cholera, and worm infection. Infectious, water-related illness can keep victims out of work for long periods of time, prevent school attendance, and even result in death: UNICEF reported that about 4,500 children die every day from preventable, water-related diseases.
Water is life. Growing pressure on water resources – from population and economic growth, climate change, pollution, and other challenges – has major impacts on our social, economic, and environmental well-being.
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