Declining water quality is an acute problem around the world due to agricultural runoff, industrial wastewater, improper disposal of human waste, and many other issues. Water pollution is most problematic where there are large increases in agricultural and industrial production and inadequate wastewater treatment.
In many developing countries, waterways traditionally used for drinking water or other community needs have been heavily contaminated. Decreased environmental flows exacerbate water pollution by further concentrating existing contaminants in smaller quantities of water.
In China, many rivers are so polluted that industry cannot even use the water. Two-thirds of China’s largest cities do not have wastewater treatment facilities, adding to the problems.
Business Impacts of Declining Water Quality
- Increased costs for pre-treatment to obtain desired water quality.
- Increased costs for wastewater treatment to meet more stringent regulations.
- Regulatory restrictions for specific industrial activities and investments.
- Increased health costs for employees in highly-polluted areas.
- Increased responsibility (and costs) to implement community water infrastructure and watershed restoration projects to mitigate reputational risks.