With over half of fresh water too dirty to drink ─ who’s cleaning up?

Update

September 1, 2021

Social

With over half of fresh water too dirty to drink ─ who’s cleaning up?

Update

September 1, 2021

Social

Rapid urbanisation and development are putting water resources in cities under extreme pressure. The challenges of tackling too little, too much and too dirty water are huge. Not least because only 2.5 percent of the world’s water is fresh water and less than 1% is portable. In other words, most fresh water is now too contaminated to drink. So who's is cleaning up?

Today more than 2 billion people already live in countries with high water stress. And, according to the United Nations, that figure is set to more than double by 2050. To address the problem of too dirty water know-how from the Netherlands is assisting countries like India, Indonesia and Bangladesh through various programmes and public-private partnerships (PPP) to tackle river pollution.

Creating value from waste

In spite of its cultural and religious status, the Ganges is one of the world’s most polluted rivers. Discharge from urban sewage, and chemical waste from paint and paper factories and tanneries has the potential to kill all marine life in these waters. That is why since the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in 2017, Indian and Dutch companies have joined hands to construct waste incineration plants and water treatment facilities. NLWorks facilitates cooperation between Dutch companies and local and national governments to solve problems like river pollution. For instance an integrated waste-to-value plant on Ganges tributary Hindon is helping to prevent future pollution and revive 2500 km of the Ganges. The sale of resources recovered from the pollution is paying back investment in the project.

 

Indonesia ranks as the second largest contributor to the plastic marine pollution. Much of it ends up as plastic soup in the world’s 5 gyres. To conserve Indonesia’s marine diversity and reduce the impact of pollution on Indonesian communities and its economy, Deltares recently led a study that was published by the World Bank on plastic waste discharges from land-based sources in Indonesia. The study assesses waste streams and hydrological conditions which show how local practices can be adapted to stem waste flows into Indonesian rivers.

Sustainable textile industry in Dhaka

Through the  Sustainable Future for Textile Factories PPP, Deltares is also helping Bangladesh safeguarding future supplies of water to its capital city Dhaka. At present Dhaka’s rivers are too polluted to drink and ground water supplies are shrinking faster than they can be replenished. By piloting clean production processes at selected factories 30 km away from the capital, the water quality in the Meghna river has improved significantly. The pilot shows how investment lowers energy consumption and reduces the amount of dyes and chemicals required in production processes. Meanwhile wastewater is taken by pipeline to treatment centres. By monitoring the socioeconomic and environmental impact of these changes, Deltares demonstrates how to reduce pollution by up to 70%, making water potable and conserving biodiversity so that local fishing communities can thrive once again. The PPP ensures that 40% of Dhaka’s 20 million residents will have access to clean drinking water in the future.
 

United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 Clean water & sanitation is a top priority worldwide. Clean rivers also have a knock-on effect on other SDGs such as SDG8 Decent work, SDG1 No poverty, SDG2 No hunger as the conservation of biodiversity and SDG14 Life below water protects the livelihoods of communities dependent on the rivers. That is why the Netherlands is committed to sharing its expertise and knowledge with its international partners, so that together we can ensure clean water is available to all.

NL Waterway Cleanup

In the first of a series of symbolic actions to show we can all make a difference - the power of together, NL is organising NL Waterway Cleanups across the globe. Join us on World Cleanup Day 18 September and help us turn waterways back into healthy lifelines between cities and oceans. Organising an NL Waterway Cleanup yourself? Put your own cleanup on our NL Waterway Cleanup map now and contact us at info@nlbranding.nl for the event kit full of tips and tricks.