Chemicals poured down the sink or pumped into the atmosphere can eventually end up in the groundwater, which means less available fresh water for us to use.
While making small volumes of pure water in a lab is possible, it’s not practical. The reaction is expensive, releases lots of energy, and can cause really massive explosions.
A woman draws water from a hand pumped well in northern Ghana.
Many African countries tend to mismanage their groundwater resources.
When a stream enters a culvert, the flow can be concentrated so much that water flows incredibly fast. So fast, in fact, that small and juvenile fish are unable to swim against the flow and are prevented from reaching where they need to go to eat, reproduce or find safety.
Our new invention tackles one of the greatest impediments to fish migration in Australia: culverts, those tunnels or drains often found under roads.
Heavy rainfall recently devastated large swathes of Kerala, India.
Green infrastructure can be a valuable tool in helping vulnerable communities to face the double threat of flooding and drought.
Africa’s waterways, like the Barotse floodplain in Zambia, must be properly managed.
African countries need to urgently develop coherent and strategic policies around water, land and agriculture.
Cape Town narrowly avoided “Day Zero,” but that doesn’t mean the city is resilient to future water shortages.
Cape Town faced down "Day Zero" earlier this year, but that doesn't mean its water system is resilient. Other cities should also take note.
The Fitzroy River in flood in 2017.
The new Martuwarra Fitzroy River Council aims to overcome a management problem faced by many traditional owners: the fact that major rivers flow through lands home to many different groups and languages.
A man gets his drinking water from a Cape Town neighbourhood in 2017.
In South Africa, Cape Town fears "Day Zero", when the city will have to ration water drastically. The phenomenon threatens other cities as well but solutions exist.
A fisherman at work in the White Nile. Half the river’s flow is lost to evaporation from the Sudd swamps, a large wetland.
Arne Hoel/World Bank/Flickr
Nature based approaches to solving water problems originated in Europe and don't take into account Africa's huge infrastructure deficit.
Flooding is a common hazard in Nezahualcoyotl, a Mexican city just outside the nation’s capital.
AP Photos/Eduardo Verdugo
In many Mexican cities, water is treated as a political bargaining chip – a favor that public officials can trade for votes, bribes or power.
A woman carries a water canister in a village near Loiyangalani, Kenya.
New ways of managing water have emerged in some of Africa's urban and peri-urban areas.
Deep dive: water flows from a bore in Birdsville, Queensland.
Groundwater is out of sight, but it shouldn't be out of mind. As cities struggle to cope with drought, we should remember that our largest stocks of water are hidden deep underground.
The Melbourne skyline. Water saving habits adopted during a prolonged drought that ended in 2009 are still followed.
The experiences of other countries can provide valuable lessons for Cape Town on how to better cope with its water crisis.
The Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city in Tianjin Binhai New Area, China.
EPA/HOW HWEE YOUNG
Engineering solutions are popular interventions, but cities cannot simply pipe away flood risk. Chinese sponge cities offer a way forward.
New water policies could cause even more harm to the already damaged Tukituki River.
Phillip Capper/Wikimedia Commons
New Zealand’s economically driven approach to ecological decline risks entrenching environmental problems rather than solving them.
Blue-green algae in the Murray River upstream of Mildura in April.
Toxic algal blooms were unheard of in Australia's major waterways before 1991. Now the Murray River has been struck by four major events in less than a decade, with more likely in the future.
The EVA Lanxmeer development in the Netherlands provides a model for how to incorporate green infrastructure in all aspects of the planning process.
Green infrastructure can be delivered relatively easily using existing planning processes. The main obstacle could be psychological: planners are wary of disruption to embedded practices.
There are still concerns over the impact of upstream coalmines on water in the Warragamba Dam, a key part of Sydney’s water network.
AAP Image/Dean Lewins
The cutting of senior staff from WaterNSW, the body that oversees the safety of Sydney's water supply, poses serious risks to Australia's most complex water network.
Photosynthesis is crucial to the ability of plants to convert sunlight into energy.
N i c o l a/Flickr
Distinguished Professor Graham Farquhar has received this year's Prime Minister's Prize for Science for his pioneering research into photosynthesis.
Go with the flow: scarce water has allowed Outback species to persist for millennia, where otherwise they might have died out.
The Outback covers 70% of Australia, and its water is precious and scarce. Yet there is no joined-up plan to monitor and manage Outback water, despite the wealth of species and communities that depend on it.