Environment - Water, water everywhere ..

1st June 2012 at 01:00

What it's all about

There is a hosepipe ban in the South of England, yet Wales is so awash with water it has offered to sell some much-needed supplies, writes James Williams.

We may complain about being unable to wash the car, but our problems are insignificant compared with greater worldwide water supply issues. More than half the developing world's primary schools do not have access to water and sanitation facilities. Without toilets, girls typically drop out of school at puberty.

It is not only drinking water that needs to be considered: how we deal with our waste is an equally big problem.

In the 1850s it is estimated that 150 million tonnes of sewage a year was washed into the Thames. The effect was to "kill" the river: bacteria thrived, but the fish all died.

In August 1854, a cholera outbreak in Soho killed 127 people in three days. Ultimately it claimed 616 lives. The source of the infection was traced to a water pump in Broad Street (now Broadwick Street) by physician John Snow, who made the link between the spread of cholera and contaminated water. But the Great Stink, as it was named, did have one positive outcome: the building of an extensive sewer system by engineer Joseph Bazalgette.

The British Council and the Open University's short film, Water, A Precious Natural Resource, explores water use, problems of limited water access and what privatisation and climate change may mean for the future. Visit

http: bit.lyKihTP2

What else?

Help pupils understand flooding with an interactive storybook from TESiboard. Find the cause of a cholera outbreak in London in an exciting science investigation from mrharperbhs.

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