The Human Right to Water

According to the World Economic Forum, the water crisis is the third-worst risk to global prosperity. Having access to clean water was considered a human right by the UN in 2010. "Water Rights" can have different meanings depending on where someone lives. Unless we can admit that water and sanitation are essential for health, life, and development, severe water scarcity issues will occur by 2025.

In the United States, water rights belong to the landowner. The federal government helps make sure all of the water given to landowners is fair. A majority of these water rights were given out historically, giving a farmer or city access to a certain amount of water for multiple decades. Whatever water crosses someone's land, they have access too. Key issues have caused certain people to lose their access resulting in fights, lawsuits, and physical altercations over water.

The main issues leading to these altercations are water use in agriculture, population change, and rising temperatures. Agricultural uses a tremendous amount of water. With rising temperatures, they need more water then they have been allocated. Agriculture is also a source of pollution for the United States waterways. This makes the water unconsumable and requiring expensive filtration to clean it. The states facing the worst water scarcity issues are California, Texas, Kansas, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona.

In other parts of the world, not everyone has water. The human right to water requires each person have:

  • a clean water source within 1,000 meters.

  • Collection time should not exceed 30 minutes.

  • Water costs should not exceed 3% of household income.

  • Between 50-100 liters of water per person per day to ensure basic needs.

Since 2000 over 100 million people gained accessible clean water. Great improvements have been made, but there is not a fair share of water accessibility. While 884 million people lack access to safe clean water, 2.2 billion people around the world do not have safely managed drinking services. Strong leadership and management are required to make sure everyone can have their rights to clean water.