World Water Crisis – One Billion People at Risk

March 21, 2001

World Water Crisis- One Billion People at Risk

Water Quality & Health Council Calls Attention to Global Water Crisis on World Health Organization’s “World Water Day”

ARLINGTON, VA (March 21, 2001) – March 22nd is World Water Day. On this day, like every other day, the people of the world will use nearly 3 trillion gallons of water. For one-fifth of the world’s population, this water will be unsafe to drink because it is carrying disease-causing organisms. The Water Quality & Health Council (WQ&HC) recognizes the World Health Organization’s (WHO) “World Water Day” as an opportunity to acknowledge the challenges posed by the global water crisis and to pose practical, achievable solutions for addressing the problem.

According to Joan Rose, chair of the WQ&HC, “World Water Day reminds us of the critical relationship between water and health. Indeed, access to safe drinking water is one of the most serious public health crises facing the world. More than one billion people are in great danger of disease and even death every time they take a sip of water.”

Although many developed nations have dramatically reduced waterborne disease because of a century’s use of disinfectants and reliable distribution systems, developing nations are still plagued by waterborne diseases such as cholera, resulting in millions of deaths per year. The WQ&HC supports the development and implementation of practical, local solutions with the combined support of governments, public health advocates and private industry in order to provide safe water to people in need.

Media reporting on World Water Day or water issues in general may find the following facts on the global water crisis useful:

· According to the WHO, every 8 seconds a child dies from a water-related disease-that’s nearly 11,000 children per day.

· Globally, infectious diseases such as waterborne diseases are the number one killer of children under-five.

· The United Nations warns that 80 percent of diseases in developing countries result from unsafe water.

· More people die from unsafe water annually than from all forms of violence, including war.

· According to the WHO, the water consumed by more than one billion people – one out of five on Earth – is unsafe, potentially leading to disease and death.

· Global water consumption is doubling every 20 years, more than twice the rate of human population growth.

· Three-quarters of the earth’s surface is covered by water, but a mere one percent of all the water is available for human use.

· In most countries, 30 percent of treated drinking water is lost from leaky pipes.


The Water Quality and Health Council is an independent, multidisciplinary group sponsored by the Chlorine Chemistry Division of the American Chemistry Council. Its mission is to promote science based practices and policies to enhance water quality and health by advising industry, health professionals, policy makers and the public.

World Water Day was started by the United Nations in 1992 to raise awareness about this critical problem and to remind people that solutions are possible, provided strengthened participation in relief efforts and global co-operation increases. The theme for World Water Day 2001 is “Water and Health”. For this reason, and for the first time, the World Health Organization is the lead agency for the day.

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