1. Boston, Mass. – May 1st, 2010. 8 million gallons of water per hour are gushing into the Charles River. One-third of people in Boston did not have access to clean water. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick declares a state of emergency. Officials advise residents to boil their water before consuming it.
2. Mprumem, Ghana – 1970s. Guinea worm disease afflicts the population, leaving many unable to work or attend school. The local water sources are contaminated with larvae-containing water fleas. Once a villager drinks the water, the worm larvae hatch and grow up to 3 feet long. The victim then spends weeks in agony as the worms emerge from open sores in the skin.
1. In the Boston area, many people rushed to local stores to buy bottled water, causing the supply to run out in most places. The state asked companies to ship more water to Massachusetts, and the National Guard distributed emergency water. Mayor Thomas Menino said that schools would remain open, as 80% of schools already used bottle water, and the rest would receive emergency supplies. As for the burst pipe, the New York Times reports:
Workers managed to stop the spill on Sunday and to begin repairs on the pipe — which was buried 20 feet underground. Officials with the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority said that the water pressure was steady Sunday night.
Though it was a major problem, for now, it seems under control. Clean drinking water in Boston and 29 surrounding suburbs is expected by Wednesday
2. In Mprumem, things have improved over the last 40 years. Through international aid, the residents now have piped water coming in from the nearby city of Wineba, and the chief has also built a water reservoir to tide people over during cutoffs. Guinea worm disease has been largely eradicated from the town.
A UN Summit in 1977 set the goal of universal access to clean water and sanitation, with a 1990 deadline. Today, according to the Red Cross, 900 million people do not have access to clean water, and 2.7 billion people do not have access to sanitation.
The goal has not been met.
Under the Current Millennium Development Goals, the UN has declared a commitment to halve the number of people without access to clean water by 2015.