Chapter 13. Water Resources


Category Description

Effective wastewater management is essential to human and ecosystem health. Untreated wastewater contaminates rivers, lakes, and oceans. It spreads diseases that kill millions of people each year. Ecosystem impacts from wastewater range from eutrophication to increased water temperature, depending on the wastewater source. Wastewater pollution threatens ecosystem vitality and clean water resources in all countries, but the need for wastewater management is especially pressing in countries facing water scarcity. Growing populations also threaten the ability of some countries to ensure clean freshwater resources. Connecting people to adequate wastewater collection and treatment systems mitigates these damages by preventing pollution and making treated water available for re-use.

Indicator Included

Wastewater treatment: We measure wastewater treatment as the percentage of wastewater that undergoes at least primary treatment in each country, normalized by the proportion of the population connected to a municipal wastewater collection system.

Countries can minimize the negative environmental impacts of sewage by treating wastewater. Water treatment can remove pathogenic microorganisms and other harmful pollutants, minimizing health risks to humans and ecosystems. Maximizing wastewater treatment is an effective way to assess the cleanliness of each country’s water resources. Our wastewater treatment indicator captures only water treatment by centralized municipal utilities, as global data from independent water treatment such as private septic systems are lacking. 

Water Resources indicator

Wastewater treatment

%, weighted by connection rate