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Website of the Week — Safe Drinking Water


Time again for our Website of the Week, when we showcase interesting and innovative online destinations.

This week, it's a brand new site aimed at providing information to help improve the quality of drinking water around the world. It's called "Safe Drinking Water Is Essential," and that pretty much explains the mission. And water expert Dr. Peter Gleick, a member of the site's scientific steering committee, says it provides a variety of tools to help.

GLEICK: "There's an atlas that provides basic data. There's information on the sources of water themselves, as you've seen; on contamination of water; on old ways and new ways of treating water resources. Old and new ways of distributing water. All of those things are going to be key for bringing solutions to bear."

The site, at www.drinking-water.org, also provides case studies, profiling a desalination plant in Tunisia and describing arsenic contamination of water supplies in Bangladesh, to take two examples. And, as you might expect from a website produced by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, all the information has been carefully checked by experts.

GLEICK: The information that went on this [site] underwent a much more extensive review of the quality of the information itself, which you don't often get in different parts of the web, of course, as we all know. And so I think the point is that the user can have a fairly high degree of confidence that the quality of the information that's available has been reviewed by the scientific community.

Although the website is the cornerstone of the "Safe Drinking Water Is Essential" campaign, they are also distributing a version in compact disc format, so areas that don't have web access can still get the information on CD-ROM. Hamé Watt, a water consultant and former professor, originally from Senegal but now working in the U.S., says the information will be especially useful in developing countries.

WATT: "So we are very happy about the website, and I think it'll be very useful for the people in the field, whether they are drilling wells or building water towers or doing any other planning, I think it will be very, very useful. And especially [because] it is in many languages, in French and Spanish and Arabic and so forth."

Also Mandarin Chinese and, of course, English.

As the site reminds us, contaminated water is responsible for some 1.8 million deaths each year from diseases like cholera that are spread by unsafe water. The difference between clean and dirty water can literally be the difference between life and death.

So dive into this brand new and important resource on safe water supply: www.drinking-water.org, or get the link from our site, voanews.com.

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