Monitoring drinking water quality for the Sustainable Development Goals
The United Nations explicitly recognize the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals therefore include ambitious global targets for drinking water, sanitation and hygiene.
In this collection, npj Clean Water collaborated with the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene, as well as Scientific Reports, Nature Communications, Nature Geoscience and Nature Sustainability. This collaboration brings together the latest research in exposure assessment, risk factors and health impact analysis, and new approaches to testing and water policy that all contribute to making safe drinking water available across the world.
© borgogniels / Getty Images / iStock
Quality requirements for water differ by intended use. Sustainable management of water resources for different uses will not only need to account for demand in water quantity, but also for water temperature and salinity, nutrient levels and other pollutants.
Millennium and sustainability goals may be well known, but the history of how those goals are formed remains hidden. This Analysis examines the political and academic factors that led to MDG 7C and how China and India have tried to achieve it.
Only about 15% of water cycle diagrams include human interaction with water, although human freshwater appropriation amounts to about half of global river discharge, according to an analysis of 464 water cycle diagrams and a synthesis of the global water cycle.
New approaches to testing
Risk factors and health impacts
Megacities rely on groundwater from aquifers that may be over-exploited and be at risk of contamination. Khan et al. evaluate the complex aquifers supplying Dhaka, Bangladesh and show that extensive groundwater pumping could lead to unpredictable future arsenic contamination in deep aquifers outside the city.
Globally diarrheal disease through contaminated water sources is a major cause of child mortality. Here, the authors compile a database of 293,362 children in 35 countries and find that upstream tree cover is linked to a lower probability of diarrheal disease and that increasing tree cover may lower mortality.
The authors compared the performance of a range of rural water supply types during drought in Ethiopia. They show that prioritising access to groundwater via multiple improved water sources and technologies, such as hand-pumped and motorised boreholes, supported by monitoring and proactive operation and maintenance increases rural water supply resilience.
Depending on their connectivity to the river network, wetlands can be much more efficient at removing nitrate in a watershed than common nitrogen mitigation strategies according to an analysis of the Minnesota River basin.
Groundwater that predates the Holocene is commonly assumed to be unaffected by modern contamination. A global analysis of fossil groundwater suggests that modern contaminants are present in deep wells that tap fossil aquifers.
Groundwater resources are coming under increasing pressure leading to water quality loss. Here, the authors find that recent groundwater pumping has led to increasing arsenic concentrations in the San Joaquin Valley, California aquifers from arsenic residing in the pore water of clay strata released by overpumping.