The Stream, March 22: World Water Day Focuses on Wastewater

The Global Rundown

Today is World Water Day, and the theme this year revolves around the challenge — and potential — of wastewater. A report released by the United Nations warns that a quarter of the world’s children will be at risk from water scarcity by 2040, especially those living in the Middle East and South Asia. In its new report, U.K.-based WaterAid highlights the lack of clean water access in India and rural areas around the globe. The Ganges and Yamuna rivers now have the same legal rights as human beings thanks to a court ruling in Uttarakhand. The Dutch banking company ING made another move to divest from the Dakota Access oil pipeline. South Africa plans to impose a levy on mining companies to treat acid mine drainage near Johannesburg.

“Wastewater itself is a valuable resource, even the term wastewater is an oxymoron. We need to stop seeing it as a burden to be dealt with. It’s not a waste and should not be a waste, especially in this world of water scarcity.” –Richard Connor, editor-in-chief of the United Nations’ 2017 World Water Development Report, released to mark World Water Day today. The report notes that more than 80 percent of the world’s wastewater is untreated, threatening human and environmental health. High costs for treatment plants, as well as the “yuck factor”, are the primary barriers preventing more beneficial use of wastewater, it said. (Reuters)

In context: Keep up with World Water Day events live from the Vatican. And explore Circle of Blue’s wastewater coverage here.

By The Numbers

63 million people Number who do not have access to clean water in rural India, nearly equal to the population of the United Kingdom, according to a report released by WaterAid. NDTV

$120 million Amount Dutch banking group ING divested from a loan that financed the Dakota Access oil pipeline. It was the latest move by the financial company to withdraw support for the project, which has been widely opposed due to water quality concerns. Guardian

67 percent Amount of acid mine drainage treatment costs mining companies will be required to cover under a new levy meant to clean up water near Johannesburg, South Africa. Reuters

Science, Studies, And Reports

Severe water scarcity will affect one in four children globally by 2040, according to a report released by UNICEF. Poor children living in the Middle East and South Asia, where rapid urbanization is occurring, are expected to be particularly vulnerable to water stress, the authors said. Guardian

On The Radar

Uttarakhand’s High Court ruled this week that the Ganges and Yamuna rivers have the same legal rights as human beings, a designation inspired by a similar ruling in New Zealand last week. High levels of pollution from sewage and industrial effluent continue to plague the rivers despite repeated government initiatives to improve water quality. Associated Press

In context: Learn more about recent efforts to clean up India’s rivers.