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How is water used in Belgium?

Small in size, densely populated and very urbanized, Belgium is a country with a high level of water usage that impacts on the water supplies of other countries when water used to produce imported goods is taken into account. This short article takes a look at how much water Belgium consumes compared to other nations, where that water goes and what can be done to reduce water use in Belgium.

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The water inequalities that still persist

Today is the World Day of Social Justice, where the ongoing need to tackle poverty, inequality and exclusion is recognized. Global inequalities regarding access to clean water supplies is something that doesn’t always receive the same coverage as other inequalities but they still persist. Universal access to clean water and sanitation is number 6 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by 2030. In this article, we take a brief look at the challenges to overcome.

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Water Wars

Wars over resources are not new. European colonialism was fuelled to a large extent over gaining control over resource-rich parts of the African, Asian and American continents. The 20th century featured many conflicts over control of oil fields. According to many experts, we now face a future where an increasing number of disputes are over the planet’s most essential resource – water.

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The cost of poor sanitation

Access to clean drinking water and a decent sewage disposal system are things that many of us take for granted, but the lack of decent sanitation in parts of the developing world is still having severe effects.

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drinking water source
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Where does our drinking water come from?

In Belgium, every water that flows through our pipes and from our tap is also potable water. Even the water with which you flush the toilet can be drunk. That water is derived from groundwater or surface water, but undergoes a whole process before it flows drinkably through our pipes. The collective name of the water from which drinking water is extracted is called ‘raw water’. Not all the water consumed in Flanders comes from our own water extraction. The Netherlands, France and Wallonia are among the suppliers for a share of the water production for Flanders.

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Cities facing day zero.

Day zero. It sounds like the title of an apocalyptic horror movie. Yet these two words have a real world meaning referring to the water crisis currently threatening a number of the world’s cities. This year, Cape Town prepared itself for a “day zero” – a dreaded day when water reserves become so low that central water supplies are turned off and the resource of water becomes rationed. This has now been put back to 2019.

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Preparing for Tomorrow… Incorporating water efficiency in buildings.

With several advantages, few negatives and low costs, it’s perhaps surprising that water efficiency hasn’t garnered the same attention as energy efficiency in the green building drive. But this presents an opportunity for forward-thinking planners and developers to gain an edge and take the lead where water-related technologies and solutions are concerned, rather than waiting for the policy-makers to catch up.

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leaky pipes
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Leaky pipes in central water supplies.

Upgrade and maintenance costs are expensive. For some countries, replacing archaic pipes could take decades. For others, it may never happen. To properly address the situation, we may need more innovative solutions. It could be time to revolutionize the way we think about how water is distributed and managed.

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