2020 Current Issue

Sustainable Safe Water Supply

A commitment to provide a safe, reliable water supply – particularly drinking water – has been a hallmark of modern societies.  However, development pressure on ecosystems, a changing climate, and a fraying social contract are combining to pose increasing water supply challenges for the 21st century.  At the same time, new technologies and management practices grounded in science, innovative use of green infrastructure, and growing concern for climate justice offer the potential for solutions.

Sustainability requires that we take into account

  • Ecological health.  Resource management, particularly water withdrawals, must balance human needs with the requirements of the ecosystems that provide the services.
  • Financial costs and savings.  What are the true costs of supplying water to our communities?  What is the most appropriate scale for new water supply infrastructure?  What are the most efficient combinations of gray and green infrastructure?  Should we use drinking water for purposes that don’t require this quality?  What new technologies can save water and cut costs?  Where are energy savings possible?
  • Social justice.  Access to safe, affordable, and adequate sources of drinking water is increasingly recognized as a human right.

In 2020, Mass Envirothon teams will investigate water supply issues – and the potential for solutions that support both ecological and human health – in their home communities.