World Water Day on March 22: Clean drinking water is a privilege

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In almost all countries of the world, a supply of clean drinking water is not guaranteed.
“World Water Day” today, March 22, aims to remind people of the value of clean drinking water as a life-enabling resource.

By 2030, the UN aims to guarantee access to safe drinking water for all, according to its Sustainable Development Goals.

“No one should take it for granted that we in Austria have crystal-clear drinking water available from the tap at all times,” said Agriculture Minister Elisabeth Köstinger (ÖVP) on the occasion of World Water Day 2021.

The theme of World Water Day 2021 is valuing water for households, food, culture, health, education, the economy and the environment. “If we overlook any of these values, we risk mismanaging this finite, irreplaceable resource,” the UN-Water sub-organization wrote on its website for this year’s theme, “Valuing Water.” Without a comprehensive understanding of the multi-faceted value of water, we would not protect this important resource for the benefit of all. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015. Point 6 states “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation and wastewater systems.”

However, in almost all countries of the world, unlike Austria, a steady supply of clean drinking water is still not guaranteed, reminded Köstinger, whose portfolio also includes tourism agendas. “People come to us from all over the world because they appreciate intact natural landscapes, waterfalls, lakes and bodies of water.” Everything would be done to keep this treasure intact. Especially in times of climate change, it is “important to closely observe how heat and dry periods as well as extreme events develop and how they influence the availability of water in Austria,” the minister concluded.

Climate change: water shortages as a result of heat waves
As recently as mid-March, a study published in the journal Nature Geoscience showed the consequences of water shortages in the form of crop failures, dried-up forests and rivers running dry as examples of the effects of heat waves that Europe has repeatedly faced in recent years. In doing so, the authors concluded that summer droughts in Europe since 2015 have been far more severe than in the 2,100 or so years prior.

In any case, simply by consuming drinking water from the tap, individual consumers can already make a small contribution to combating climate change, the Austrian Gas and Water Association (ÖVGW) reminded in a statement: The results of an ÖVFW study on the life cycle assessment of drinking water, published in 2014 and conducted by the Boku, showed that the consumer’s drinking water supply emitted between 0.1 and 0.3 grams of CO2 equivalents per liter. This contrasts with the bottled water balance with values between 75 and 140 CO2 equivalents per liter.

Protection of water should always have priority
Wolfgang Nöstlinger, vice-president and speaker of the water specialist of the voluntary representation of the Austrian gas network operators and water supply enterprises, called as substantial partners for the protection of the water agriculture and the industry, in addition, each individual can contribute something: No chemical-synthetic pesticides in the garden for instance and medicines should not be disposed of over the sink or the toilet, since they arrive over the natural water cycle again into the groundwater. The correct way to dispose of these substances is at pharmacies or waste centers,” Nöstlinger advised.

  • sources: APA and vienna.at/picture: pixabay.com
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