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Highly developed countries with expensive water-related infrastructure, sophisticated waterworks and treatment plants, still contribute to local and global pollution. Many developing countries still lack water-treatment facilities and environmentally-sound water management. These problems are especially accentuated in some of the large and fast growing cities of the world. Means of solving the problems involve a new holistic approach to resource management. The goal of such an approach is to close the cycles of residuals that damage the environment, and to recover resources lost in residuals emitted from human activities. The most important step is to apply pollution prevention, i.e. pollution control at the source. Present knowledge suggests technologies that can solve the problem of pollution from human settlements on a single-house level. Alternatively, wastewater may be treated locally and reused. Ecologically-sound technologies that already exist should be used whenever possible. Water management can be integrated with management of other human activities, such as waste handling, industrial production, transportation, etc. Tools for implementation of such solutions are: legislation coupled with education programs; changing competition rules of the market economy; i.e. developing a sustainable society through resource recovery and reuse. Demonstration projects, in which the rules of preventive approach and novel technology are applied, may constitute a practical means of implementing such an approach.
Ambio © 1993 Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences