Delivering Clean Water to the Many in Need

Examining the immense scale of the challenge in delivering clean drinking water to everyone in the world.

2 minute read

August 11, 2021, 11:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Drinking Water

Michael Pettigrew / Shutterstock

Jonathan Doyle reports on the challenges facing the United Nations' plans to achieve universal access to safe drinking water around the world, and the progress made so far toward that goal.

The goal, included among 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the UN in 2015, is stated as, "Achieving universal access to water sources that are improved, with a round trip for water collection not exceeding 30 minutes, safe from contamination, and available when needed," with a target date of 2030.

The challenge is daunting. According to data cited by Doyle,  785 million around the world did not have access to basic water services in 2017. About 144 million people were collecting water directly from surface water sources in 2017. Finally, at least 2 billion people get their water from a source contaminated by feces.

For signs of progress on the clean water SDG, Doyle points first to the United States, with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) approved in 1974 and amended in 1996 (unmentioned are the failures of that law to protect the people of Flint, to cite one conspicuous example). At the international level, Doyle points to work by the United Nations and the World Health Organization. But the most significant achievements are credited to NGOs such as World Vision, which claims to have delivered sustainable, clear water to 20 million people as of 2020. Finally, Doyle credits the private sector with achievements in water filtration technologies that are also providing benefits around the world.

[Disclaimer: the end of the article shifts to content marketing for water filtration systems.].

Sunday, June 20, 2021 in Waterdrop

Aerial view of New York City architecture with augmented reality visualization, blue digital holograms over buildings and skyscrapers

4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design

With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.

February 20, 2024 - ArchDaily

View from shore of Sepulveda Basin water catchment basin with marsh plants along shore.

LA’s ‘Spongy’ Infrastructure Captured Almost 9 Billion Gallons of Water

The city is turning away from stormwater management practices that shuttle water to the ocean, building infrastructure that collects and directs it underground instead.

February 25, 2024 - Wired

"It's The Climate" sign over street in Grants Pass, Oregon.

Oregon Town Seeks Funding for Ambitious Resilience Plan

Like other rural communities, Grants Pass is eager to access federal funding aimed at sustainability initiatives, but faces challenges when it comes to meeting grant requirements.

February 18, 2024 - The Daily Yonder

Front view of stone home with severe tornado damage and portions of roof ripped off.

10 States Where Insurance Costs Impact Housing Affordability

Insurance companies are responding to the increasing frequency and intensity of severe weather events caused by climate change by raising home insurance premiums in high-risk states, adding another hurdle to housing affordability in the U.S.

5 hours ago - Fox Business

View of small pedestrian bridge in Prescott Preserve Palm Springs, California with palm tree oasis and mountains in background.

Rewilding the Golf Course

How former golf courses are being transformed from manicured lawns to vibrant habitats.

6 hours ago - The New York Times

Red Los Angeles Fire Department fire truck parked on pier in San Pedro, California at Port of Los Angeles.

Safe Streets Ballot Measure Runs Into Unexpected Opposition

Los Angeles's Measure HLA would compel the city to make serious upgrades for walking, biking, and other forms of active transportation, all in the name of saving lives. Its biggest opponent: the firefighters union.

7 hours ago - California Planning & Development Report

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.