U.S. Water News Online
WASHINGTON -- The National Academy of Engineering recently
released its list of the 20 greatest engineering achievements of the
20th century. Advances in water supply and treatment ranked number
four on the list -- ahead of computers, telephones, and nuclear
The Academy credited advances in managing water treatment, supply,
and distribution systems as having "changed life profoundly in the
20th century, virtually eliminating waterborne diseases in developed
nations, and providing clean and abundant water for communities,
farms, and industries."
According to C.T. "Kip" Howlett, Jr., executive director of the
Chlorine Chemistry Council®, the recognition of the importance of
a safe water supply should not be surprising. "Since it was first
used on a large scale to disinfect water in the United States in
1908, chlorine has helped combat some of the deadliest diseases of
the past 100 years," he said. "Cholera, typhoid fever, dysentery, and
other waterborne diseases were serious health issues at the start of
the 20th century, but the chlorination of water has virtually
eliminated these threats and helped increase life expectancy in the
United States by more than 50 percent."
Although in the United States clean water is available to almost
everybody simply by turning on the tap, the World Health Organization
(WHO) estimates that 20 percent of the world’s population -- more
than one billion people -- do not have access to safe drinking water.
Worldwide, dirty water is estimated to affect the health of about 1.2
billion people and contribute to the death of 15 million children
under five every year.
As we enter the 21st century, the availability of a safe water
supply remains an issue of vital importance, and chlorination
continues to offer one of the most effective and affordable option
for providing safe drinking water for the world’s population.
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