Canfei Nesharim Science & Technology Advisory Board
Without water life on Earth cannot exist. Yet, the amount, rate, and uses of water by human society have put a great strain on the quality and availability of this critical resource. This, in turn, has important implications for the health and well-being of people everywhere regardless of country or economic status. Among the main scientific concerns are: a) human-caused changes in the hydrologic (water) cycle due to aquifers being drawn down, diversion of water from lakes and rivers, and altered precipitation patterns due to climate change; b) the impact of agricultural, residential and industrial pollutants on water quality; c) balancing agricultural use, human drinking water needs, and the role of water conservation and alternative approaches to irrigation; and d) evaluation of alternate water supplies.
Statement of the Problem
Over 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. Although water is seemingly abundant, the amount of fresh water is not. 97.5% of all water on Earth is salt water, leaving only 2.5% as fresh water. Nearly 70% of that fresh water is frozen in the icecaps of Antarctica and Greenland; most of the remainder is present as soil moisture, or lies in deep underground aquifers as groundwater not accessible to human use. Less than 1% of the world’s fresh water (~0.007% of all water on earth) is accessible for direct human uses. This is the water found in lakes, rivers, reservoirs and those underground sources that are shallow enough to be tapped at an affordable cost. Only this amount is regularly renewed by rain and snowfall and is therefore available on a sustainable basis Water, however, is not equally distributed. Of the very small amount of water that is usable by humans, approximately 20% is in the Great Lakes of North America (equal to 84% of all surface freshwater in the US  with another 20% in the Russian Lake Baikal .
High quality drinking water is critical for the health of humans everywhere. Degradation of water quality erodes the availability of water for drinking, recreation, agriculture, industry and the ecosystems upon which our survival depends. Poor water quality also increases the financial costs for human users to purify existing water supplies or identify and build new infrastructure to transport cleaner water supplies.  Many effects on water quality are cumulative in nature in that multiple sectors of human society can affect water quality. These compounding effects on systems can lead to catastrophic changes.
A. Changes in the Hydrological Cycle
War and Israel
What You Can Do
Water Quality and Human Health
Protecting Our Water
- Smart Disposal: A Prescription for a Healthy Planet
- Pharmaceuticals in Wastewater
- Lead in Drinking Water