Global Potable Water: Current Status, Critical Problems, and Future Perspectives

  • Caitlin A. GradyEmail author
  • Shih-Chi Weng
  • Ernest R. BlatchleyIII
Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 30)


Providing access to potable water and sanitation has become a human right through various designations in international treaties and declarations. Many countries and international organizations have established water quality guidelines for potable water supplies, thereby defining standards for treatment processes to meet. Unfortunately, potable water for all is a goal that has not yet been fully realized. Water-related diseases remain the number one cause of death for children under five worldwide; these problems are particularly evident in rural areas of developing countries. In addition, emerging contaminants and disinfection by-products have been linked to chronic health problems for people in the developed and developing world. This chapter provides an overview of critical problems relating to the provisioning of global potable water. First, current health impacts of water-related illnesses as well as natural and human influences that will alter our current water supply in the coming decades are reviewed. The technical limitations to water treatment in both developed and emerging economies are then discussed. Additionally, a brief look at the social and political factors influencing potable water access such as government capacity, competing interests, and the influence of food choices on water availability will be discussed. Finally, some current innovative approaches and suggested strategies for water management in the future are presented.


Potable water access Anthropogenic impacts Water and health Technical limitations Societal challenges Emerging issues 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caitlin A. Grady
    • 1
    Email author
  • Shih-Chi Weng
    • 2
  • Ernest R. BlatchleyIII
    • 2
  1. 1.Ecological Sciences and Engineering ProgramPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.School of Civil EngineeringPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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