We rely upon clean water to survive. We need water to drink, cook our food, clean ourselves, and water our crops. However, if water is too dirty, or there is no water around, we cannot survive.

The two main problems we face with water are:

  • A lack of water because rivers have dried up due to climate change and lack of rainfall.
  • The water some people have access to is too dirty to use: it is polluted and unclean.

How does water get polluted?

Water is polluted naturally, but often the real damage is done by humans.

The major ways humans pollute water is by:

  • Pumping raw sewage (toilet waste) straight into rivers, lakes and the sea.
  • Releasing harmful chemicals from factories straight into rivers, lakes and seas.
  • Spraying harmful chemicals on crops which then find their way into local streams, rivers and lakes.
  • Allowing sediment from construction sites to find its way into local streams, rivers and lakes.

How does polluted water affect us?

When water is polluted with waste and sewage, harmful bacteria and viruses can thrive making it very dangerous for humans to use to drink, bathe and prepare food with.

Water polluted with chemicals can kill marine life - suffocating and poisoning fish.

In developed countries, heavily polluted water can be cleaned and made safe before it ends up in our taps, but this process can be very intensive and use huge amounts of energy.

However, in less developed countries, sanitising polluted water isn't always possible. Therefore, some people drink, bathe and cook their food in water which can damage their health.

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