Global Water Quality

According to a recently released white paper by Veolia and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), global water quality is expected to take a plunge in the coming years. "This assessment reveals that levels of BOD, N, and P discharged into water bodies around the world are already alarmingly high. This situation is projected to worsen substantially over the next several decades as loadings of these substances will continue to increase, posing greater risks to aquatic environments and human health, especially in developing countries," the white paper said.

Even under a best-case scenario, water quality is still projected to deteriorate dramatically. The paper called on decision makers to invest in water infrastructure and technology and to streamline water management policies. For ratepayers, cities, and the industrial sector, the paper said one solution is "more aggressive investment in wastewater treatment, not just for developed economies but also for developing countries." Ed Pinero, senior vice president for sustainability at Veolia North America, put the paper in context. "The global water crisis is not science fiction," he said. "The evidence of drought in the United States and in many parts of the world, lack of rain or snowfall, drying rivers and lakes, water shortages, and water restrictions, is real enough." The United Nations agrees that water quality is dropping, pointing to nutrients as a major challenge.