The science journal Nature today focuses on water and includes a review article titled “Science and technology for water in the coming decades.” (It leaves out the great Canadian success story in this area — Zenon Environmental Inc. of Oakville, Ont. which is now a division of the General Electric Company). Here in Canada where water, particularly in its 'snow' form, seems to be in overabundance right now, it's worth noting this rather sobering opening paragraph (that's me bolding some parts for emphasis) in that review article:
The many problems worldwide associated with the lack of clean, fresh water are well known: 1.2 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, 2.6 billion have little or no sanitation, millions of people die annually—3,900 children a day—from diseases transmitted through unsafe water or human excreta1. Countless more are sickened from disease and contamination. Intestinal parasitic infections and diarrheal diseases caused by waterborne bacteria and enteric viruses have become a leading cause of malnutrition owing to poor digestion of the food eaten by people sickened by water2,3. In both developing and industrialized nations, a growing number of contaminants are entering water supplies from human activity: from traditional compounds such as heavy metals and distillates to emerging micropollutants such as endocrine disrupters and nitrosoamines. Increasingly, public health and environmental concerns drive efforts to decontaminate waters previously considered clean.
Nature also asks, and tries to answer, the question: If each us needs about 1,000 cubic metres of water a year, is there enough water to go around?