About 884 million people around the world do not have access to safe drinking water. One of the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDG-2000) is to ensure environmental sustainability, with a target to halve the 1990 proportion (23%) of the world population without access to safe drinking water by 2015. Presently, progress is evaluated in terms of the proportion of people provided with access to improved drinking water, and not in terms of its long-term sustainability. A field study was conducted in 70 rural communities of Northern Pakistan to examine the sustainability of community-based drinking water systems. Although the study is wide in scope, this paper focuses only on environmental sustainability by examining the capacity, reliability, quality, and protection of drinking water sources and the distribution systems; other results will be reported elsewhere. The field results show that for about 49% of the communities studied, the sources provide insufficient water, with 21% of these sources depleting quite rapidly. Microbiological water quality in the area is poor with about 86% of the water sources being contaminated with coliform and 42% unprotected from surrounding contaminations. Unfortunately, 66% of the communities have never tested the quality of their water source. The study showed that the proportion of the rural population with access to safe drinking water was diminishing, along with a degradation of the natural environment in terms of water pollution and availability to reliably meet human and ecological needs.
|Keywords:||Environmental Sustainability, Water Sources Protection and Uses, Safe Drinking Water, Millennium Development Goals, Community-Based Drinking Water Systems, Water Availability, Source Depletion, Water Quality|
Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Civil Engineering & Applied Mechanics, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Professor Emeritus, Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Assistant Professor, Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada