Human health needs knowledge about water and the subsurface

The environment and our health are intimately linked, both directly and indirectly. At Deltares, we combine our integrated knowledge about water and the subsurface with human health to make the environment healthier. This is essential as there are major changes in the environment that put our health under more and more pressure. For example, floods and droughts are becoming more frequent due to climate change. Our cities will come to house two thirds of the global population as it increases to 9 billion people in the run-up to 2050, creating potential shortages of clean water and food. As a result, our living environment will be exposed to extreme pressures.

Dhaka waterfront at Buriganga River (Old Ganges).
Photograph Mariusz Kluzniak

This urban-climate cocktail increases pollution and also creates a fertile breeding ground for pathogens and their carriers, exposing people to harmful substances as well as to infectious diseases. The knock-on effect is an increase in the use and excretion of antibiotics, and spread of antibiotic resistance in the environment.

Fortunately, there are solutions available to maintain or improve the health of water systems. In that way, we can reduce the risks of pollution and pathogens for human health.

The solutions arising from linking integrated knowledge about water and the subsurface to human health allow those responsible for the planning, design and use of water systems to explicitly take the impact on human health into account. In that way, government authorities, businesses and the public can take action that is also good for health.