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What is the Future of Drinking Water?


Outline of the Paper

  • Introduction

In this part water pollutions ad the necessity of protecting the fresh water resources were introduced.

  • Future of Water

This part focuses mainly on the future of drinking water. Severity of drinking water shortage at present and the reasons for the contamination of water sources were outlined in this part.

  • Water Infrastructure Problems

This part points towards the outdated water supply infrastructure in America and the health problems raised by these aging water supply equipments. The huge expenditure need for the renovation of these defective water supply equipments is also dealt briefly in this part

  • Bottled Water Industry

The evolution of bottled water industry, its present opportunities and future growth prospects were dealt in this part

  • Fresh Water Conservation

The importance of conserving fresh water resources and the strategies needed to protect fresh water resources were dealt in this part

  • Conclusions

All the findings of this research is concluded and some recommendations were made in this part.

  • Works Cited

The references used in this paper were cited in this part

  • Appendix

Some relevant information were provided in this part



Even though, 2/3 are of the earth is covered by water, the human generation is now thinking deeply in terms of drinking water shortage in future. Water is one of the lavishly available resources on earth. In fact no other things are more on earth than water. One of the most significant components of water is required for sustaining life on earth. The creator has given everything needed for us to survive in this world. He has given us food, water, shelter and enough natural resources to find our livelihood. But we failed to use it in judicious manner because of our greediness to make profits in all possible manners. The author was conscious of the significance of water to human survival, and he brought us great seas, rivers, lakes, etc. In addition, he even had a huge supply of underground water. Yet water supplies have been spoiled by unwise human actions and exploitation, and the planet is already experiencing lack of clean water.

Future of Drinking Water

According to former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, “Access to safe water is a basic human need, and therefore a fundamental human right.” Contaminated water jeopardises both individuals’ physical and social welfare. It is an individual rights affront (Water as a human right). The lack of clean water is a huge issue worldwide. Owing to heavy industrialization and the usage of strong pesticides and fertilisers to increase crop yields, much of the drinking water supplies have been polluted. Many people assume that the management of fresh water supplies has another world war on the card. Even the latest Iraq war has often been accused of being a concerted effort by the US to manipulate Iraq’s fresh water supplies rather than its officially stated targets. Not only humans, but also plants and animals residing in water, soil, and air are harmed by water contamination. The future of water is analysed in this article.

Future of Water

It is calculated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that nearly 45% of the measured waters federally do not completely comply with water quality requirements. This suggests that certain bodies of water do not satisfy the central purpose of the Clean Water Act-to be secure for purposes such as bathing, agriculture, or as a means of drinking water. From 2000 to 2019, the EPA predicts that $388 billion would be required to resolve the nation’s safe water supply concerns. (All Dried Up, How Clean Water is Threatened by Budget Cuts p.2).

The above numbers specifically describe the magnitude of the issue of drinking water shortages faced by the United States at present. The problem with respect to drinking water shortage is not with respect to the scarcity of water, but with the scarcity of drinking water. It is a fact that none of the water resources, exhausted over the last few centuries. In fact water levels in sea and oceans are increasing because of global warming and subsequent melting of huge ice blocks from the Polar Regions. The problem is with respect to the availability of drinking water sources. Most of the fresh water resources which once fed us with immense amount of drinking water are currently contaminated because of our injudicious and visionless activities. For example, in Alabama 73% of assessed river miles, 25% of assessed lakes, and 100% due to irrigation, extensive animal feeding activities, urban wastewater treatment plants, land growth, building and industrial discharges, the measured estuaries and bays are designated as having polluted water quality (All Dried Up, How Clean Water is Threatened by Budget Cuts p.10). Water at the surface level and even the underwater are equally contaminated because of our own activities. Most of the industrial wastes coming out of the industrial units are going directly to the nearby streams or rivers. These streams and rivers were the fresh water resources which cater our drinking water needs since the evolution of human life on earth. Moreover, modern agricultural methods with the help of chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides are contaminating not only the land, but the water resources as well. The water flowing out of the land is going directly into the fresh water resources and contamination of water results. Along with food and oxygen, water is an essential component for sustaining life on earth. Even without food we can survive for one or two weeks. But it is difficult to manage even a day without consuming water.

Water Infrastructure Problems

It will corrode and deteriorate when the water supply outlives its useful existence, and we have experienced the results: a national epidemic of burst water mains, faulty pumps and storage equipment, and ageing treatment plants that struggle to eliminate major pollutants. Severe water contamination concerns are often exacerbated by outdated drinking water treatment plants. Not only do old-fashioned treatment plants, for instance, cause certain toxins to pass through, but they often incorporate pollutants. Traditional primary disinfection with chlorine will create high amounts of by-products of disinfection as the chlorine interacts in the water with naturally occurring organic matter. These disinfection by-products have been related to cancer and to miscarriages and birth defects in a number of preliminary studies (Olson, p.5)

“Some 54,000 community drinking water systems provide drinking water to more than 250 million Americans” (Water Infrastructure Now, p.1). One of the pathetic aspects of water management in US is the low grade of water infrastructure.Most of the equipments used to provide drinking water to the public such as pipes, water tanks, water taps etc are outdated and it is necessary to replace these equipments. But the expenditure required to replace these equipments are huge and hence the administrative bodies are keeping a blind eye towards such issues. Many of the pipes laid down at different times have already crossed their life expectancies. Federal and State governments need to spend a huge amount in the coming two three decades for the replacements the damaged equipments currently using for the water supply. As per the American water association’s calculations “expenditures of the order of $250 billion over 30 years might be required nationwide for the replacement of worn-out drinking water pipes and associated structures” (valves, fittings, etc) (American water works association, p.5). Even though the average life expectancy of cast iron pipes is around 120 years, some of the pipes used water supply in America is older than 120 years.

The chemicals used for the purification of the water are another problem. These chemicals not only kill the germs, but it also react with the damaged metallic pipes and water tanks and creating products which are harmful to human health. When cooking food using contaminated tap water, these undesired chemicals may enter our body and severe heath problems may arise.“In a national poll, 86 percent said they support the creation of a water infrastructure trust fund. Asked which projects most deserve a trust fund, 71 percent said safe and clean water, while just 20 percent said roads and highways”(Food and Water Watch, p.7)

Though trillions of dollars have been spent for the improvement, upgrading or replacement of existing water infrastructure in America, the output seems to be below the expectations.  Government collects a huge amount of money from the people as water taxes, but failed to reinvest such money fully in the infrastructure development of water supply in America. Recession and huge expenditure made on war on terror like issues, forced the government to cut down its expenditure on infrastructure development.

Bottled Water Industry

At the global stage, bottled water intake hit 154 billion litres (41 billion gallons) in 2004. In overall bottled water intake, the United States is the leading nation and Italians consume more per citizen than any other country. The highest rise in bottled water, however, comes from emerging countries that have tripled intake in India and more than doubled in China over the past five years (Bottled Water, p.1)

The detailed statistics of bottled water consumption in some of the major countries are given in the appendix. One of the most relevant industries is the filtered water industry attractive businesses in the world at present because of the suspicions over using the tap water for drinking purpose. The lack of filtered drinking water is a huge issue around the planet, causing the drinking water to be safe public to seek other options like bottled water. Even though carbonated soft drinks are still popular in America, the concerns about the health problems generated by soft drinks, forced the public to think in terms of taking bottled water more frequently. Diabetes is one of the major problems caused by soft drinks. Type 2 diabetes is believed to be one of the major villains which give way for chronic diseases like coronary problems. Americans have a habit of taking soft drinks whenever they became tired or thirsty because of the temporary energy it provides. But in the long run, these soft drinks can adversely affect the health and people started to realize it now. Thus, in place of soft drinks, Americans started to use bottled water which is a good sign for the bottled water industry. 

Even though the authorities are repeatedly assuring the purity of the municipal water, public have still concerned about the reliability of such assurances. Growing health problems prevented the public from swallowing the declarations of the authorities as a whole. City tap water is treated in local treatment plants with the help of sand, gravel and chemicals like Chlorine. Even after the treatment, the tap water may consist of hazardous chemicals like Chlorine, Fluorine, Calcium hydroxide etc. “The current major concerns in regard to water quality are lead and disinfection byproducts. Lead is a key operational and treatment concern for municipal water treatment plants. The rising concern over chlorine byproducts is also another factor of concern” (The Future of Water Filtration). These chemicals can affect the human health drastically which forced the current generation to look for other options like bottled water.

Because of the increasing popularity of the bottled water, American government has put some regulations over the manufacture and sale of bottled water America. Bottled water manufacturers should obtain the certificate from EPA and FDA before selling bottled water in America now. Apart from ensuring the purity of the water, the bottled water producers should mark the source of the water in the labels put on the bottles. The above certifications increased the confidence of the public in using the bottled water. Earlier, such regulations were not in place and hence people had certain concerns about the safety of using bottled water.

Bottled water culture is growing everywhere because of the belief that bottled water is comparatively safer than tap water. But some of the statistics show that even bottled water also not safe enough for the drinking purpose. The prevalence of arsenic, trihalomethane, bacteria, and a number of other toxins in some of the bottles was found in a study performed by NRDC using 1000 water bottles, including 103 of the most common labels  (Olson, p.11). In short, even bottled water is not bottled under the supervision of any reliable agencies. The bottled water industry is a business, not a charity service and hence all the mal practices of business can be witnessed in this industry also. In order to make more profits, the bottled water manufacturers do not bother much about the safety of the human beings.

Compared to tap water, bottled water is highly expensive and it is difficult to use bottled water for all the basic purposes like bathing, washing, toileting etc. Bottled water will never be an option for our water requirements. It can be used only for the drinking purposes. But contaminated water usages while washing, bathing and toileting may cause immense health problems. In short, bottled water cannot serve us in all our water needs.

Fresh Water Conservation

The discussion so far made in this paper pointed towards the importance of protecting our fresh water sources. There are also measures we should do to secure our fresh water sources. Some of the major things which should be taken care in our efforts to avoid drinking water shortage in future are given below

  • When running water is not required, save water by shutting off the tap. Which aims to stop water problems and lowers the volume of polluted water required to be handled.
  • Be cautious what you’re tossing into the drain or the bathroom. Do not dump down the drain paint, oils, or other types of litter.
  • Using household items such as laundry powder, household cleaning agents, and toiletries in an environmentally sound way from flowing away into local water bodies.
  • Flowing out of local water bodies by getting more plants in your greenhouse.
  • In order not to overuse chemicals and fertilisers, take special caution. This will keep the material
  • You avoid fertiliser, fertiliser and polluted water from
  • Do not dump litter into the seas, lakes or waterways. Help sweep up any waste you find on beaches or in rivers and streams to guarantee that the litter is removed and deposited in a local dustbin (Water Pollution Guide)

Many people do not know the economic value of water. Since water is available everywhere, people have the illusion that it is renewable source. Every year the rainfall fills the water sources like river, streams and oceans and hence people have the belief that the water sources will never be exhausted. They are partly right; however, when we consider the availability of drinking water, the above assumption seems to be totally wrong since the fresh water resources are exhausting day by day even though contaminated water availability in increasing every day. In future countries with fresh water resources can generate immense revenue by selling fresh water like the oil producing countries generating revenue through the selling of oil. “Clearly the correlation between water and wealth is higher with respect to water efficiency than to water consumption. Dramatic gains in economic well-being can be had by more efficiently using available water, rather than by increasing available water” (India’s Water Future)


Unless we make serious efforts to protect our fresh water resources, we are going to face severe drinking water shortage in the future. The freedom to have water is a civil right which needs to be preserved. Spoiling of water resources for selfish and temporary advantages would cause immense damage to the scope of sustaining life on earth. Fresh water resources should be protected at any cost. Strong rules and regulations should be implemented in the waste disposals and usages of pesticides and chemicals in the agriculture sector. No alternate options can provide enough fresh water for human use, like the fresh water resources.

Works Cited;
  • American Water Works Association.2001. “Reinvesting in Drinking Water Infrastructure”. A Study Sponsored by The AWWA Water Industry Technical Action Fund May 2001 Web. 1 December 2010. <http://win-water.org/reports/infrastructure.pdf>
  • “All Dried Up. How Clean Water is Threatened by Budget Cuts.” September 22, 2004. Web. 1 December 2010. <http://www.americansforpurewater.com/files/public/All_Dried_Up_SRF_Approps_Report.pdf>
  • “Bottled Water”. SBDCNet January 2007. Web. 1 December 2010. <http://sbdcnet.org/dmdocuments/BottledWaterIndustry.pdf>
  • Food and Water Watch. “Faulty Pipes: Why Public Funding—Not Privatization—is the Answer for U.S. Water Systems”. Web. 1 December 2010. <http://dgroups.org/file2.axd/2dc8fdc4-6dd4-40a7-ad90-933329a959d5/Faulty_Pipes_-_Food_and_Water_Watch_report_06.pdf_1077 >
  • “India’s Water Future”. 2006. Web. 1 December 2010. <http://www.ecoworld.com/other/indias-water-future.html>
  • Olson, Erik. “WHAT’S ON TAP?”. Natural Resources Defense Council June 2003. Web. 1 December 2010. <http://www.nrdc.org/water/drinking/uscities/pdf/whatsontap.pdf>
  • “The Future of Water Filtration”. 2010. Web. 1 December 2010. <http://www.historyofwaterfilters.com/water-filtration-future.html>
  • “Water as a Human Right.” Web. 1 December 2010. <http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/rtw1.pdf>
  • “Water Infrastructure Now. Recommendations For Clean And Safe Water In The 2 1st Century”. Web. 1 December 2010. <http://www.win-water.org/reports/winow.pdf>
  • “Water Pollution Guide.” Web. 1 December 2010. <http://www.water-pollution.org.uk/preventingyou.html>


The countries leading in total bottled water consumption

  • The United States (6.8 billion gallons)
  • Mexico (4.6 billion gallons)
  • China & Brazil (approximately 3.1 billion gallons each)
  • Italy & Germany (approximately 2.8 billion gallons each)
  • France (2.2 billion gallons)
  • Indonesia (1.9 billion gallons)
  • Spain & India (approximately 1.4 billion gallons each)

(Bottled Water, p.1)

Annotated Bibliography:
  • American Water Works Association.2001. “Reinvesting in Drinking Water Infrastructure”. A Study Sponsored by The AWWA Water Industry Technical Action Fund May 2001 Web. 1 December 2010. http://win-water.org/reports/infrastructure.pdf

This article emphasizes the importance of developing, modifying, and replacing water infrastructure in America. It argues that huge expenditure is needed for the water infrastructure development in America. It also tells us that the current water infrastructure is outdated and causing problems to the human health

  • “All Dried Up. How Clean Water is Threatened by Budget Cuts.” September 22, 2004. Web. 1 December 2010. http://www.americansforpurewater.com/files/public/All_Dried_Up_SRF_Approps_Report.pdf

This report gives us some idea about the depth of water pollution problems in America. It says that approximately 45 percent of assessed waters in America do not fully meet water quality standards. It also point towards the expenditure needed for the future development of water infrastructure.

  • “Bottled Water”. SBDCNet January 2007. Web. 1 December 2010. http://sbdcnet.org/dmdocuments/BottledWaterIndustry.pdf

Bottled water industry and its popularity in the current world were described beautifully in this article.

  • Food and Water Watch. “Faulty Pipes: Why Public Funding—Not Privatization—is the

Answer for U.S. Water Systems”. Web. 1 December 2010. <http://dgroups.org/file2.axd/2dc8fdc4-6dd4-40a7-ad90-933329a959d5/Faulty_Pipes_-_Food_and_Water_Watch_report_06.pdf_1077 >

This article points towards the importance of replacing water outdated infrastructure in America. It argues that huge expenditure is needed for the water infrastructure development in America is huge. It also gives us some health problems associated with pipe water usages in America.

  • “India’s Water Future”. 2006. Web. 1 December 2010. http://www.ecoworld.com/other/indias-water-future.html

Even though, this article focuses mainly on the water problems of India, it provides some useful general information about future of water

  • Olson, Erik. “WHAT’S ON TAP?”. Natural Resources Defense Council June 2003. Web. 1 December 2010. http://www.nrdc.org/water/drinking/uscities/pdf/whatsontap.pdf

This article is also deal with the water infrastructure and its problems in America. It also point towards the problems generated by the water purifying chemicals. It says that traditional chlorine primary disinfection can produce high levels of disinfection by-products when the chlorine reacts with naturally occurring organic matter in the water. These disinfection byproduct have been linked to cancer and, in a series of preliminary studies, to miscarriages and birth defects

  • “The Future of Water Filtration”. 2010. Web. 1 December 2010. http://www.historyofwaterfilters.com/water-filtration-future.html

This article points towards the necessity of water filtration and the problems faced in the water filtration process at present.

  • “Water as a Human Right.” Web. 1 December 2010. http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/rtw1.pdf

This article argues that the right to have fresh water for drinking is a basic human right and it should be protected at any cost.

  • “Water Infrastructure Now. Recommendations For Clean And Safe Water In The 2 1st Century”. Web. 1 December 2010. http://www.win-water.org/reports/winow.pdf

This report gives some recommendations for the future. It says that around 54,000 community drinking water systems provide drinking water to more than 250 million Americans.

  • “Water Pollution Guide.” Web. 1 December 2010. <http://www.water-pollution.org.uk/preventingyou.html>

This article provide us some statistics about the UK water pollution and the efforts made to conserve the fresh water resources of UK.

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