Over 80% of the world's wastewater is released to the environment without treatment. Globally, 58% of diarrheal disease – a major driver of child mortality – is due to a lack of access to clean water and sanitation. In Latin America, Africa and Asia, severe pathogenic pollution was found in one third of all rivers, putting at risk people’s health and endangering the use of river water for irrigation, industry and other purposes.
Nutrient pollution (nitrates and phosphates) threatens food security, the fishing industry and people’s livelihoods as well as posing a significant threat to biodiversity and ecosystem services globally. It is mainly caused by the over-application of fertilizer to agricultural fields, which then runs off into nearby water bodies and causes eutrophication, which in turn leads to the development of oxygen-depleted zones, interfering with many human water uses and causing major shifts of species in ecosystems.