In developing countries, the swift distribution of water infrastructure is strongly demanded, because average life expectancy depends on the penetration rate of water supply systems. For the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the United Nations took the initiative and many countries joined hands to dig wells and develop water supply systems with the goal of halving the population who cannot access safe water by 2010, and attained that goal earlier than expected. On the other hand, the development of water supply systems augmented the volume of sewage water, and the water environment has been worsening considerably in recent years. In Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, there is only one effluent treatment facility in the urban center, and other sewer water is discharged to lakes and rivers as it is, and what is worse, the urban areas of developing countries are expanding disorderly to the suburbs, and the development of infrastructure does not keep up with it. Out of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, Goal 6 is to improve sanitary equipment, and distribution of toilets, and increase of the rate of installation of drainage treatment facilities are to be achieved by 2030.
Meanwhile, developed countries, including Japan, are faced with emerging issues regarding water infrastructure. In Flint, a major city in the vicinity of Detroit, the U.S., the lead included in water pipes dissolved into tap water due to a budget shortfall and simple technical mistakes, and the then President proclaimed a state of emergency and the use of tap water was restricted. In Japan, too, debates about the deterioration and sustainability of water infrastructure are becoming active. As mentioned above, the water infrastructure in Japan was rapidly constructed in 1960. Since its lifespan is 50 years, we are about to enter the renewal period in 2020. Considering the decrease in the population, the declining birthrate, the aging society, the drop in the number of engineering staff members, etc., we cannot say that the outlook for Japanese water infrastructure is bright. It is forecasted that it will be more difficult to secure funds and manpower to construct, maintain, and manage the infrastructure, and we need to prepare for surviving in a mountain in the winter.
Video of news about the lead pollution in Flint