Deteriorating water quality worldwide is slashing the economic potential of heavily polluted areas, according to a new World Bank report, released on Tuesday. It also warns that the “invisible” crisis of water quality is threatening human and environmental well-being.
In some regions, rivers and lakes are so polluted that they are literally catching fire. Prime examples include the Bellandur Lake in Bangalore, India, which has carried ash onto buildings up to six miles away.
Many other bodies of water, however, are polluting less dramatically, but just as dangerously, with a toxic cocktail of bacteria, sewage, chemicals and plastics, sucking oxygen out of water supplies.
The World Bank’s study, Quality Unknown: The Invisible Water Crisis, sheds new light on the ways that this process is taking place, using the world’s largest global database on water quality, gathered from monitoring stations, remote sensor technology and machine learning tools.