To summarize the article, the water in the Baltimore Harbor is gross—really gross. In fact, it received an “F” in a jointly produced by the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, Inc., and Blue Water Baltimore. While the Harbor’s water quality has been improving, from a score of 42 in 2012 to 55 in 2014, it is still unsanitary. The Harbor was graded on the following six indicators:
The Harbor received failing grades for all of these indicators except DO, which was graded as a B-. This rating is clearly a problem for the Baltimore/Chesapeake Bay watershed ecosystems and for the City of Baltimore as a whole, as there is a push for the Harbor to be by 2020. However, if the Harbor’s water quality continues to be poor, it won’t be safe for people to be in the water or eat seafood harvested from the Harbor. This water quality issue has many public health and economic impacts. In this blog post, I’ll focus primarily on the economic impacts, though public health impacts can have an economic impact since water-borne illnesses from contaminated water can be expensive in terms of health care costs, lost productivity at work, and decreased utility to consumers.
The latter country is reported have an estimated 12 million people facing water shortages due to drought especially in the northern areas such as Tigray province. It pointed out that it is not unusual, for example, for many people in rural Ethiopia to spend half a day in search for clean water. This story highlighted CIDA’s role in strengthening and harvesting and irrigation development in Tigray in a multi-year, multi-million dollar initiative. The project called WHIST (Water harvesting and Institutional Strengthening Tigray has as its goal, access to safe water which we all hope will in turn leads to self-sufficiency in food production. This is crucial if we are to avoid another devastating famine as we all saw in Ethiopia previously. [Editors Note: Thirty years after the massive famine in the 80s galvanized the world community to do something about this disaster, the United Nations is warning that 15 million Ethiopians will need food aid by 2016.]
The Inner Harbor is an asset to Baltimore City. While it is unfortunate that the current state of its water is so poor, I hope that the trend toward improved water quality—with initiatives such as the that collects litter in the Harbor–continues so that a “swimmable and fishable harbor” can become a reality.
The second story of our series on Africa’s Water Crises explores how it affects women disproportionately. Gender roles in many African countries developed over centuries mean that women are faced with the responsibility of the family’s nutrition and hygiene as well as replenishing water. This also impacts on girls who are required to assist their mothers.
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According to the , the lack of clean water accounts for the premature death of 1.7 million people a year. Harmful organisms, bacteria and pollutants are found in water supplies of developing nations, where governments lack the resources to implement widespread water sanitation. And without easy access to medical care and antibiotics, people in water-poor countries often succumb to waterborne illnesses.
In the United States, the majority of people have access to sanitary water, regulated by the government. And even in areas that rely on well water – which is not subject to any regulatory guidelines – people have plenty of options for removing unwanted substancesfrom water. In other parts of the world, low-cost, easily implemented water purification methods may be the key to battling waterborne illness. Read on to find out what is being done to increase access to clean water around the world.
Inadequate waste disposal methods, contaminated water sources and the lack of awareness about proper hand-washing all contribute to the spread of waterborne disease. The pervasive threats in developing countries are that are commonly found in human or animal waste, which can contaminate water supplies when waste disposal areas are too close to drinking water sources. People who have ingested water contaminated with harmful organisms usually experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration – and in extreme cases, or in the very young – death.
A great deal of is devoted to helping developing countries provide clean water for their people. Volunteers help dig fresh wells in water-deprived communities where people have been drinking water from polluted and muddy water sources. Community leaders are educated about ways to prevent their well water from becoming contaminated and standards for human waste disposal. And residents learn about proper hand-washing techniques, as dirty hands can quickly spread disease. Still, even with the amount of outreach taking place, people need ways to make water potable.
Pearce says that heat and radiation will kill harmful contaminants in water; the SODIS method is simply filling a clear plastic bottle with clear water and setting it in the sun for six hours. However, in developing countries, finding clear water can be a challenge, since water sources may contain muddy sediment.
The economic impacts of the Harbor’s low water quality are and will continue to be numerous in terms of lost benefits. First, the ability to swim in the Harbor would be a reason for people to travel and visit the Harbor, which they are essentially unable to do when the water quality is poor. Previous studies have estimated that a day of swimming (at the beach, which we could assume would be similar to a day of outdoor swimming at the Harbor) is worth per visitor. These visitors would likely go out to eat, walk around, and enjoy the various amenities around downtown. A healthy harbor also provides an opportunity for Baltimore City—as wonderful and underrated as it is—to brand itself in a positive light. A “fishable harbor” creates opportunities for industry growth in local, sustainable food production, which is becoming increasingly popular with consumers. Of course, the environmental impacts from improved water quality should not be ignored and can be quantified using environmental economic theory, but that is another blog post for another time.