Water Sources and Delivery

Access to sufficient supplies of clean water is absolutely central to maintaining human life. Biologically, we are more than two-thirds composed of water, and even a minor deficiency in water—say 5 percent of our biophysical need—can seriously debilitate a human being. We can survive weeks without food, but only days without water (less in hotter, more arid places). Indeed, water is so central, and so contested, that there is now a movement to establish a legally enforceable global right to water.

Because the need for water is so universal it can hardly be a surprise that the history of water provision is rich, varied, and reaches back to the earliest human conurbations. Only slightly less obvious, water has a complex geography in at least two senses—it ...

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