What is Sustainable Water Management? Sustainable Water Management is a term that has being thrown around for quite a number of years now, but what exactly does Sustainable Water Management mean and why is it important to us?

Water is a vital and essential resource for both human and economic wellbeing, but there is a finite amount of water on the planet and as the number of competitors for this vital resource increases, the quantity available diminishes. The amount of available water within a given locality also diminishes in various regions globally due to climate change and diminishing quality.

This calls for strict regulations regarding the treatment of wastewater and drinking water to avoid pollution or contamination of either. Pollution occurs for a number of reasons such as natural contamination such as poison springs and oil seepage, or anthropogenic (resulting from human activity) contamination.

Pollution sources include ditches, drain pipes, or sewer outfalls as well as runoff from agricultural fields, lawns, golf courses and gardens, and atmospheric deposits of air pollutants carried by air currents. Pathogenic (disease-producing) organisms that originate from untreated or improperly treated wastes are the most dangerous pollutants to animal/human health.

Human activities have greatly accelerated and increased instances of water pollution, leading to increased eutrophication and imbalances in nature. Increased biological productivity has resulted in an increase of poisonous deadly microbes called dinoflagellates which have wiped out millions of fish in polluted surface water bodies.

All of this means that Sustainable Water Management is imperative, and this requires sustainable development.

Sustainable development is more than just protecting the environment:

The World Commission on Environment and Development (1987) stated that sustainable development is ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’

The IUCN, UNEP, and WWF (1991) describe sustainability as ‘improving the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting ecosystems.’

According to the ICLEI (1996), sustainability means ‘development that delivers basic environmental, social and economic services to all residences of a community without threatening the viability of natural, built and social systems upon which the delivery of those systems depends.’

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