Water is an essential part of life on Earth. Humans have recognized it as one of the key elements to survival, storing, distributing and consuming clean water for centuries.
Obviously, water is vital for growing crops and raising livestock for human consumption. It is no accident that villages and cities originally sprung up beside or near such bodies of fresh water as rivers, lakes and streams.
Nevertheless, there has been a long history of mismanagement in water storage and distribution. Some ancient water waste systems were terribly inefficient—so much so that they brought harm to the very people depending on them. Those who consumed mishandled water often succumbed to sickness and death.
Gradually, communities began importing water from locations far from their centers.Aqueducts were built to transport water sourced from mountains and distant forests, where the resource was clean and of excellent quality.
Good quality water was abundant for many millennia. But when humans began contaminating their own water supplies, new sources had to be found.
In 1627, Sir Robert Bacon conducted experiments to remove salt particles from seawater. Although unsuccessful, his attempts led to a revival of water treatment research, which eventually resulted in innovative breakthroughs.
During the 18th century, people became more aware of the dangers of drinking contaminated water. In homes, they started using filtration systems made from wool, sponge and charcoal.
As the world’s human population expanded, so did demand for potable water, even though clean water sources were becoming increasingly more rare.
As industries grew, manufacturing plants and other factories disposed of waste and byproducts in nearby bodies of water, causing aquatic life in lakes and rivers to die off. It was not until the Industrial Age was in full swing that people began to realize how badly contaminated their environs had become.
Today, droughts in various parts of the world are draining huge communities of precious water supplies, too.
Many governments are trying to deal with these water problems by constructing dams and water treatment plants. But not everyone has access to such facilities.
New strategies are required to deal with the issue of dwindling fresh water resources as times and climates change. Recycling, water conservation, desalination, rationing and water efficiency technologies are a few of the answers being put forward, but permanent solutions will require a concerted global effort, beginning with greater awareness and recognition of the problem.
We can no longer take it for granted that the taps will always gush forth with fresh water when we turn them on. Now is the time to demand that measures be taken to ensure an unending flow of H2O for our future, before it’s too late.
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