Water in Yemen .Reduction and pollution [Archives:2005/854/Health]

June 27 2005

By Amal Mohammed Al-Ariqi
Yemen Times Staff

According to many water crisis studies, 80% of diseases in the third world is due to water pollution. Ten million people die annually because of the same reason. Millions of people are deprived of safe drinking water. Children that live in rural regions where there is no healthy discharge, undergo diarrhea 7 times a year.

Ninety-five percent of all fresh water on earth is ground water. Ground water is found in natural rock formations. These formations, called aquifers, are a vital natural resource with many uses. Nationally, 53% of the population relies on ground water as a source of drinking water. In rural areas this figure is even higher. Eighty one percent of community water is dependent on ground water. Although the 1992 Section 305(b) State Water Quality Reports indicate that, overall, the Nation's ground water quality is next to excellent, many local areas have experienced significant ground water contamination. Some examples are due to leaking underground storage tanks and municipal landfills.

The major sources of water pollution can be classified as municipal, industrial, and agricultural. For example:

– Petroleum products (oil and chemical derived from oil are used for fuel, lubrication, plastics manufacture

– Pesticides and herbicides that are used to kill unwanted plants and insects.

– Heavy metal like copper, lead and mercury are exposed to water from many sources, including automobile industries.

– Excess organic maters (fertilizers wastes and other nutrients used to promote plant growth on farms)

– Large amount of sediment

– Infection organisms or parasites as Giardia, lamblia and cryptosporidium parvum.

It is obvious that water pollution is a result of human activities. For example pollutants from industrial sources may pour out from pipelines to underground storage and tanks. Many industrial, medical, printing establishments ..etc discharge pollutants into city sewers, increasing the variety of pollutants in municipal areas.

Yemen relies on underground water basically to cover the need of agriculture that uses up 90% of water, industry that uses up 4%, and 6% for other uses. However, Yemen lives watering poverty sub-line. In accordance with the studies that the portion of land a Yemeni person had in the eighties was 579 sq m. In 1990 it was about 214 sq m. In 2005 it reaches to 116 sq m. There are fears that the portion of a person will be only 73 sq m in 2025.

This serious Shortage leads people to use water regardless of water pollution. That is exactly what happened in the nineties when much illness circulated in Alruth region due to the pollution of underground water in Sana'a basin. So, because of the mismanaging during the population expansion with the absence of water service and discharge, as well as the absence of effective legislations, monitoring water pollution becomes so current. Since the safe water services cover only 26% of population, the health discharge covers only 12%, people follow imperfect methods to discharge their waste and contaminate surface and ground water. Many establishments throw out their wastes in the sewers which causes dangerous environmental damages.

The government alone cannot solve the entire problem. It is ultimately up to us, to be informed, responsible and involved when it comes to the problems we face with our water. We must become familiar with our local water resources and learn about ways for disposing harmful household wastes so they don't end up in sewage treatment plants that can't handle them or landfills that are not designed to receive hazardous materials. In our yards, we must determine whether additional nutrients are needed before fertilizers are applied, and look for alternatives where fertilizers might run off into surface waters. We have to preserve existing trees and plant new trees and shrubs to help prevent soil erosion and promote infiltration of water into the soil. Around our houses, we must keep litter, pet waste, leaves, and grass clippings out of gutters and storm drains. These are just a few of the many ways in which we, as humans, have the ability to combat water pollution. As we head into the 21st century, awareness and education will most assuredly continue to be the two most important ways to prevent water pollution. If these measures are not taken and water pollution continues, life on earth will suffer severely.