. "3 The Technology Pillar of Sustainable Water: Technology, Economics, and Health." Global Environmental Health: Research Gaps and Barriers for Providing Sustainable Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Services: Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2009.
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Global Environmental Health: Research Gaps and Barriers for Providing Sustainable Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Services - Workshop Summary
the resource better. A central component to their plan is to use treated wastewater for drinking and to sell wastewater to the semiconductor industry. Using recycled water as drinking water can create a perception problem. However, there is a top-down commitment in Singapore, as the president and the prime minister drink the “new water” (i.e., recycled, domestic wastewater). In general, there is widespread acceptance because of the quality of the water, irrespective of religion.
There will not be a shortage in the availability of water unless there continues to be mismanagement of current resources. This can be true not only in all regions, but also in the world’s megacities—cities with more than 10 million inhabitants. Currently in Delhi, the water board supplies water for three hours a day. Due to this inefficiency, each house or block of flats in Delhi is a mini-utility. They collect enough water to last for 24 hours by using underground storage tanks under each house or block of flats.
In Delhi, water consumption is 250 liters per capita per day; however, approximately 50 percent of this water is not accounted for. As in many regions in the world, 40–70 percent of the water pumped into the system never reaches the consumer (Biswas, 2006) because of leakage and pilferages. This is true not only in developing countries, but also developed countries. In 2006 Thames Water, one of the largest private water supply companies in the United Kingdom, lost 31 percent of its water before it reached the consumer. Singapore is the one bright beacon, with losses amounting to approximately 5 percent.
Furthermore, the water crisis is going to come, not from the shortage of water, but because of decades of negligence for water quality management. To illustrate: In 1976, during the International Water Supply and Sanitation Decade, the United Nations General Assembly approved the idea that access to water means access to water that is drinkable. In Delhi, however, each house or block of flats has had to set up such processes as reverse osmosis or a membrane system, because the filtration supplied is not sufficient to make the water drinkable. The intention of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the International Water Supply and Sanitation Decade is that people should receive water that is potable. They should not have to set up a mini-utility to ensure that their water is drinkable. MDGs state that, between 1990 and 2015, the number of people who do not have access to water should be reduced by 50 percent. Although there is a concerted effort to meet these goals, the fundamental question is whether the water that people are being supplied is drinkable. Or are small Delhi experiences being set up around the world?
Sanitation is another challenge for MDGs, which state that, between 1990 and 2015, the number of people without access to sanitation should be reduced by half. (Sanitation was not an original component of MDGs: it was added by the Johannesburg Declaration of 2002.) While this is a laudable goal and progress is being made to reach it, this is not the full story. From Mexico City to Delhi, from Manila to Nairobi, wastewater is collected from houses, but most of the time there