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Environment Magazine September/October 2008


July-August 2013

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Access to Safe Water: A Paradox in Developed Nations

A sight all too common in urban areas of the United States is water being used to clean sidewalks near residential and commercial properties.

The water is clean, safe, and drinkable, no different from the water that flows from the faucets in our homes. Yet instead of being consumed for household use, it flows over sidewalks and down sewers. From there it goes to wastewater treatment plants and then is discharged into lakes and rivers. Eventually, some of it returns to the water sources from which it originated. Largely hidden from the public is the lengthy, complex, and expensive treatment process that the water went through before it was deemed safe for human consumption. Unaware of this complex process, the public in developed nations considers water to be a “throwaway” commodity, not much different from old newspapers or empty soda bottles.

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