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Of all the uses of water, drinking water is the most fundamental, since the lack of safe and sustained water to drink is life-threatening. Yet, according to the United Nations (UN), as of 2002, nearly 20 percent of the world's population still lacked regular access to clean drinking water. Of these 1.1 billion people, 65 percent were in Asia, 27 percent in Africa, 2 percent in Europe and 6 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In most countries, the state is responsible for the provision of drinking water. Any drinking water supply system consists of three major elements: source (surface water sources such as lakes, rivers, and reservoirs, as well as groundwater sources such as wells), treatment (e.g., adding disinfectants such as chlorine), and distribution ...

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