Water Quality in Luxembourg
Over the past few years, the water quality in Luxembourg has become outstanding. Not only outstanding, but it now has a top rating of excellence, according to the European Environment Agency (EEA). The 11 lakes around Luxembourg all received “excellent” status, meaning that the water is free from pollution and is safe for human health and the environment.

In addition to the lakes and bathing areas certified to be safe as far as water quality, the tap water in Luxembourg is safe as well. Although most of the citizens of Luxembourg drink bottled mineral water, it’s all based on the preference of the individual’s taste. World Travel Guide stated that tap water in Luxembourg is safe anywhere in the country, and there have been no medical risks posed by the tap water.

Overall, the water quality in Luxembourg is high in cleanliness and purity. According to Numbeo, the water quality sits at 77.94% and the drinking water quality and accessibility sit at 75%, which both rate as high in the cleanliness and purity categories. The city of Luxembourg rated very high in all cleanliness and purity categories, with water quality reaching 84.62%.

To receive its tremendous water quality in Luxembourg, it uses an ultrafiltration system from the company INGE WaterTechnologies AG, which is the leader in global technology for supplying top-quality membranes and modules. Viviane Loschetter, the Luxembourg councilor, said, “The city of Luxembourg makes tremendous efforts to constantly monitor the quality of the water people drink here.” In essence, the system removes all bacteria, viruses and suspended solids without using chemicals.

One can see that Luxembourg has been successful in its efforts for high-quality water. With their lakes receiving excellent status, and the water being safe to consume, traveling to Luxembourg accounts for little to no worry.

Lindsey Robideau

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality In Belgium
A key indicator of the economic prosperity of a nation is the water quality. In first world countries such as the U.S., Canada and most of Western Europe, citizens can drink tap water without any concerns about getting a water-borne illness. One must contrast this to many developing nations where drinking water from their water systems without purification first could potentially be fatal.

Originally a part of the Netherlands, Belgium gained its independence in 1830. Currently, Belgium is a federal constitutional monarchy, which also utilizes a parliamentary system to deal with the day-to-day legislation of running the country. Due to its parliamentary system allowing citizens to have input in what the government does, the water quality in Belgium is very high compared to even first world countries such as the U.S.

A majority of the 589 municipalities in Belgium have programs in place run by their local governance responsible for maintaining the water supply and water quality. Also, Belgium has more than 62 water supply utilities throughout the country.

On top of this, Belgium also has 100 small municipalities that are privately owned that help improve the water supply. This combination of private and public water sanitation allows for the free market to help lower prices for clean water without forgoing having a governmental backup in case the free market fails. All three of these programs is one reason for the high water quality in Belgium.

Although the water quality in Belgium is high enough for its citizens to drink tap water without any ill health effects, the wastewater treatment in the country has lagged behind. In fact, wastewater sanitation did not start to get addressed within the country until 2007 after the European Court of Justice forced the Belgian government to make changes in 2004.

Wallonia, a region of Belgium, supplies 55% of the national need for water while it only contains 37% of the countries population. This fact becomes an issue due to the fact that Flanders and Brussels both rely on water from Wallonia. Flanders and Brussels rely on receiving clean water from Wallonia, 40%, and 98%, respectively.

Although there are present issues with wastewater sanitation in the country, the Belgian government has made strides in the past decade in improving its water supply after the court ruling in 2004.

The high water quality in Belgium is one reason why living in the nation is so desirable. One other reason is that the Belgian sanitation departments in the Belgian government recognize the importance of the fundamental right to water.

To help all citizens be able to achieve access to clean water, the Walloon and Brussels regions have set up a program to provide economic support for individuals who have trouble obtaining drinking water. This fund is called The Social Funds for Water, and through this organization, citizens in those regions of Belgium have had their access to water increase dramatically. In addition to this program, every citizen in Flanders has the right to a supply of 15 cubic meters of water per person per year in the country.

The high water quality in Belgium is something the international community should applaud. Every citizen has a right to access clean water, and both the private and public sectors strive to make sure this can happen. Although the country has issues with wastewater sanitation, great strides have been made to improve the water sanitation systems in the country better since the court ruling in 2004. The water quality in Belgium is something all nations strive to achieve, not only due to its quality but because every citizen has the right to drink clean water.

Nick Beauchamp

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan is an agrarian country in Central Asia that, like other countries in the region, has been heavily dependent on water because of its arid desert climate, high temperatures and low precipitation. This former Soviet republic ranked as the ninth-most water-insecure country in the world and has been ravaged by decades of economic mismanagement during its previous occupation. Water quality in Turkmenistan is rife with problems.

In fact, most of the current ethnic and regional clashes in this central Asian region have centered on the limited water resources available. Water has become a valuable raw material, taking on both economic and social significance. It has effectively become synonymous with life.

The depletion of this precious natural resource as well as pollution of surface and groundwater has straitened the lives of local residents, especially since a whopping 95% of the available water resources are channeled towards agriculture.

The rapidly growing population of the country requires commensurate agricultural growth to survive. Agriculture necessitates further irrigation, which further strains the country’s limited water resources.

Turkmenistan water ministry research institute estimates that a third of all land is unusable for agricultural purposes due to heavy soil salinization, caused partly by a steadily deteriorating irrigation network. Mountain streams dissipate upon reaching the parched lands so the main water resources are the Amu Darya rising from the snow-capped mountains of Tajikistan and the Murgap originating from Afghanistan.

In June 2015, Turkmenistan suffered its hottest month in recorded history, with temperatures soaring as high as 47.2 degrees Celsius (116.96 Fahrenheit). Water shortage remains the main concern. Yet, just two years earlier, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov signed a decree on February 22, ordering the planting of three million trees in a “grand greening action” involving more than one-tenth of the country’s population. This is despite the fact that such projects would require significant water provisions, whether through irrigation canals, sprinkler systems or water trucks.

With the difficulties in water supply, water quality in Turkmenistan is being degraded. Difficulties with water conservation and pollution from sewage and drainage water are the main obstacles. A significant part of the polluted water is discharged directly to the deserts. Agricultural wastewater is directly fed to the Amu Darya river, which supplies the farmlands with even more salted water. In 1995, with aid from the United States, a water treatment plant was constructed near Dashhowuz to address the wastewater problems in northern Turkmenistan.

Turkmenistan’s “compendium of man-made problems” includes the construction of a giant artificial lake, Altyn Asyr (Golden Age Lake), in the middle of nowhere. Environmentalists warn of an ecological disaster waiting to happen, arguing that water will evaporate en route to the desert and cannot be sufficiently replenished to keep the salt levels low. The whole scenario is reminiscent of what has been called “one of the planet’s worst environmental disasters” — the shrinking of the Aral Sea.

As competition for water rises due to climate change and rising populations, Turkmenistan needs to help reduce its water deficit by improving the technical state of its inefficient irrigation systems, minimize the rate of ecological hazards by reducing wasteful spending on grandiose projects, adopt automated water-saving technology and reuse treated drainage water for agricultural purposes.

Sadly, the country lacks the scientific, technological and financial means to undertake these critical steps. Addressing water quality in Turkmenistan will require the aid and support of the international community.

Mohammed Khalid

Photo: Flickr

 International Year of Water Cooperation
Friday, March 22, 2013 is World Water Day. This year’s World Water Day is especially important because the UN has designated 2013 the International Year of Water Cooperation. Those new to water rights issues may wonder: what is water cooperation? Why have a year dedicated to water cooperation? This post will address some of the most important points about international water cooperation.

According to UN-Water:

1. The International Year of Water Cooperation aims to: raise awareness of water cooperation, initiate innovative action toward water cooperation, foster dialogue about water as a top international priority, and address water-related development goals for beyond 2015, when the Millennium Development Goals expire.

2. Water cooperation is: cooperation between all parties involved in water management. If one party does not cooperate, efficiency of water management decreases, to the detriment of human lives. Water cooperation happens on local, national, and international levels. Vital water sources such as rivers and ground water extend across political boundaries; cooperation is needed to share these resources. Building a village well or pumping water for irrigation requires the cooperation of separate parties, often with conflicting interests.

3. Water cooperation is essential because: without water cooperation, progress is impossible in other areas of human development such as food security, gender equality, and poverty reduction. Improving water access is key to reducing poverty, especially for women and children. Water cooperation creates economic benefits, and is necessary for preserving and protecting the natural environment. Life on earth depends on water; we are responsible for managing it sustainably and effectively.

4. Challenges to water cooperation are: reaching across social, political, and economic boundaries. Those involved in water management and policy-making must work with a broad range of stakeholders, local residents, governments, and NGOs. In these situations, cooperation and cultural understanding are essential for effective communication and decision-making. Water cooperation is further complicated by the increasing water needs of a growing population. Urbanization, pollution and climate change continue to threaten water resources, placing them under even greater pressure.

5. There are endless ways you can get involved with water cooperation efforts: educate yourself and others about water rights, impediments to water access, and water cooperation efforts. Engage others in your community to advocate for sustainable water management. Click here for more about how to get involved in World Water Day and the International Year of Water Cooperation!

– Kat Henrichs
Source: UN-Water
Photo:Tree Hugger

Is water a commodity or a human right? Too many people, governments, and institutions see water as something merely to be bought and sold, and not as something every person on earth needs for survival. Like food, health care, educational and economic opportunities, and many of the other things we write about on the blog, safe water is a human right and necessity. Since 1993, the UN has designated March 22 as World Water Day. This serves to bring attention to, advocate for sustainable management of, and celebrate clean, fresh water.

2013 has also been designated the International Year of Water Cooperation, so this year’s World Water Day holds special significance. Events will be held across the globe to foster international cooperation around water. Because of the organization’s interdisciplinary approach to worldwide problems, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will coordinate the Day on behalf of UN-Water.

This day serves many purposes, including raising public awareness of water issues facing the globe and advocating for improvements in water management. Access to clean, safe drinking water is a major health concern among the world’s poorest populations. 88 percent of cases of diarrhea, the number one cause of death and illness in the world, are due to a lack of access to clean water and sanitation facilities. Almost a billion people do not have access to improved water sources, while 2.5 billion live without adequate sanitation facilities.

While the statistics are disturbing, we can do something to improve these conditions. World Water Day is an opportunity to learn about water issues and take action on behalf of those whose basic water needs are not being met. To learn more about World Water Day 2013 and the International Year of Water Cooperation, visit the UN’s World Water Day page.

– Kat Henrichs
Source: UN-Water