“Every Drop Counts”

Today the world observes World Water Day, a moment dedicated to a widespread, but often-overlooked issue. The UN’s 2007 World Water Day website delivers some sobering statistics:

In an industrialized city with plenty of water, flushing the toilet in an average household can send up to 50 litres of water down the drain every day. Yet more than one in six people worldwide — 1.1 billion — don’t have access to 20-50 litres of safe freshwater daily, the minimum range suggested by the UN to ensure each person’s basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning. Two people in five lack proper sanitation facilities, and every day, 3,800 children die from diseases associated with a lack of safe drinking water and proper sanitation.

Both water use and the world population are growing, which means that water will only grow more scarce. And, the implications of that scarcity are not limited to humanitarian concerns, though those concerns are great (guaranteeing water security is central to achieving the Millennium Development Goals).It is a vital resource, and there isn’t enough to go around. As such, nations and groups will take action to ensure access. For example, this Guardian article gives an overview of water as a central security issue and a vital component of posturing in the Middle East. Two of the issue’s many facets:

[R]elinquishing control of the [Golan] Heights could cost Israel about one-third of its fresh water if the flow into the Sea of Galilee becomes contaminated, deliberately or otherwise.

The Palestinians accuse Israel not only of plundering their water but polluting it. Some Jewish settlements pump raw sewage into the streams of neighbouring Palestinian villages, contaminating water once used for drinking, cooking and irrigation.