Skip main navigation

The importance of water quality

Read about the importance of water quality and how water quality has worsened in parts of the world.
An industrial plant with four tall chimneys surrounded by trees close to a river bank reflection on the body of water.
© Cardiff University

Water security isn’t only about the amount of freshwater available for people and ecosystems. The quality of the water is also important.

Across the world an estimated 80% of all industrial and municipal wastewater is released to the environment without any prior treatment.

This results in a growing deterioration of overall water quality with detrimental impacts on human health and ecosystems.

Sadly, this means that since the 1990s, water pollution has worsened in almost all rivers in Africa, Asia and Latin America (UNEP, 2016a). But, through strong environmental regulation, water quality has improved in much of Europe.

In the future, the greatest increases in exposure to pollutants are expected to occur in low and lower-middle income countries, especially in Africa, mainly because of higher population growth and growing economies in these countries.

© Cardiff University
This article is from the free online

The Challenge of Global Water Security

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education