Water is the world's most precious resource. It sustains all life on earth and is a key element in sustainable development. While water covers approximately three-fourths of the planet, 97 percent of the world's supply is salty, while 2 percent is fresh water locked up in snow and ice. This leaves a mere 1 percent of the earth's water for the population to drink, bathe in, irrigate crops and meet other needs.
Due to the scarcity and lack of access to clean water, the world is currently facing a severe crisis. Today, nearly one billion people—about one in eight—lack access to clean water. More than twice
that many— 2.5 billion people—do not have access to adequate sanitation. Additionally, with the world's population recently exceeding the seven billion mark and expected to rise at an annual rate of 83 million, access to clean water and adequate sanitation
will continue to be a critical concern. In fact, some observers have estimated that by 2025, more than half of the world's population will be facing water-based vulnerability.
Without access to clean water and adequate sanitation, many people throughout the world must make do with substandard supplies, often suffering in health and hygiene as a result. Millions of people each year are affected by waterborne illnesses due to the lack of a clean water supply, and more than three million people die annually from water-related health problems. In addition to eliminating waterborne diseases, experts agree that improving the world's water supply and sanitation are key factors in eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, ensuring environmental sustainability and encouraging global development.
The Berger Group of Companies recognizes the world's need for clean water and adequate sanitation. Since the late 1950s, the Berger Group has assisted in the implementation of innovative water and wastewater programs worldwide. These programs have ranged from strengthening institutions and building local capacity in order to address water and sanitation issues in Africa to preparing designs and managing the rehabilitation or construction of critical water and wastewater facilities and infrastructure in North America. Our experts possess vast expertise in developing innovative solutions to a broad range of comprehensive water and wastewater system issues. In recent years, the Berger Group has assisted cities, utilities, state governments, federal governments and multilateral institutions in undertaking a variety of assignments aimed at increasing water supply, conserving water, reusing treated wastewater for non-potable uses and remediating pollution.
The Berger Group of Companies' water and wastewater work is among its most important. It is also arguably the company's most rewarding, as increasing access to potable water and adequate sanitation is paramount to improving people's quality of life. In this issue of BergerWorld, we highlight some of our
most recent water and wastewater accomplishments around the world.