Four Characteristics

By: Jake Gallagher | October 23, 2023

There are four very important characteristics that are used to assess the state of drinking water supplies, these are:

  • Quantity
  • Quantity
  • Reliability
  • Cost


According to the United Nations and other organizations, each person requires a minimum of 20 to 50 liters of water per day for drinking, food preparation, and personal hygiene.


Drinking water quality standards have been established by the World Health Organization (WHO) and several national organizations, and they outline the allowable microbial, biological, and radiological features of safe drinking water.

The overabundance of chemicals or microbes produced from human and animal waste, industrial chemicals, agricultural run-offs, and even natural contaminants, render some water unsuitable to drink and cause water-related disorders. The quality of drinking water dissipates when sources of water are not protected or are suddenly contaminated for any reason.

Water contamination can also occur below the ground. For instance, the quality of drinking water declines when foreign pollutants are introduced into the water distribution system. Poor storage of can also lead to contamination, therefore, proper care must be taken to ensure all water storage facilities are clean.


Sources of water are also unpredictable and unreliable. Seasons, years, and locations can all affect water reliability. Some locations gain significant rainfall during the monsoon seasons only to remain dry during the other half of the year while others are affected by certain climate phenomena like El Niño and La Niña which upset the weather pattern meaning these places receive abundant rainfall one year followed by dry weather the next year.

The amount of water in rivers and lakes might be inconsistent as well. Some rivers only flow for a significant portion of the year, leaving a dry riverbed with no nearby water supply. Overuse of rivers and lakes can also cause them to dry up.

The reliability of the distribution system that supplies water to the people is crucial to maintaining quantity at the household level. The quantity of drinking water suffers when pipes are broken or only sporadic service is available.

The utilization of groundwater can often compensate for the unpredictability of surface water. The amount of drinking water, on the other hand, declines if ground water supplies are drained too quickly or are not adequately refilled by natural or man-made processes.


The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that distribution systems make drinking water available so that people do not have to go more than one kilometer from where they would consume it. The expense of having water delivered to one’s home or neighborhood is the same for everyone. Some costs are monetary, while others are quantified in travel time to and from a clean drinking water source.

It is typical to incur monetary costs for access to water. Some people pay for water to be piped to their houses by a local authority or a private utility. Others who do not have access to this infrastructure must purchase water from a number of sources such as a water refilling station, a bottled water business, or a community source.

People with little financial resources, who frequently take time out of their day to walk to a water source and get clean water, are affected by time-measured costs. The time spent bringing water costs money in terms of health, productivity, and, in many cases, educational opportunities—a consequence that is borne disproportionately by women and girls.

Water supply expenses are normally subsidized by government agencies in a variety of regions. In some contexts, this is a necessary action when providing water to impoverished populations; in others, it can lead to inefficient or wasteful use of water by persons who do not fully understand its true cost.

Eager to discover more about the state of water around the world? Take a moment to delve into the project’s overview section, where you’ll uncover fascinating facts and insights about the current state of our planet’s water resources. This section provides valuable information that sheds light on the global water situation, offering a broader perspective on this crucial topic.

Take the opportunity to expand your knowledge and gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities surrounding water conservation and management.

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