Safe drinking water saves lives

In a recent report on global health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed access to clean water and sanitation as one of the top global health achievements in the last 10 years.

The report, which can be found in its entirety here, cites increased access to improved drinking water sources for more than 800 million people worldwide. It also states that an additional 570 million people worldwide benefited from better sanitation.

The CDC’s data also show that the number of children who die each year has dropped by more than 2 million; a number attributed, in part, to safe water. Their report states that reducing global deaths from diarrheal diseases — currently 1.5 million children younger than 5 each year — depends on access to improved drinking water and sanitation and better hygiene.

While the CDC’s report is good news, it also shows that a lot more work is needed to ensure the world has an abundant supply of safe drinking water. You can do your part locally by learning to reduce, reuse and recycle, and by following some simple steps to keep our water supply clean:

1 Don’t flush unused, unwanted or expired medications down the drain — dispose of them properly (click here to find out how).

2 If you have a septic system, make sure it’s working properly so that waste can’t find its way into a water supply.

3 Eliminate or reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizers, which can be washed into bodies of water during a storm.

4 Establish a buffer zone to reduce runoff.

5 Keep trash, grass clippings and dirt off the streets and out of gutters.

6 Quickly clean up — or, better yet — prevent —fluid leaks like oil, gas, and antifreeze from vehicles.

7  Use low phosphate detergents.

8 Place pet waste in the trash.

For more tips, check out this page from the Natural Resources Defense Council.