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10 Research Question Examples to Guide your Research Project

Published on October 30, 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on October 19, 2023.

The research question is one of the most important parts of your research paper , thesis or dissertation . It’s important to spend some time assessing and refining your question before you get started.

The exact form of your question will depend on a few things, such as the length of your project, the type of research you’re conducting, the topic , and the research problem . However, all research questions should be focused, specific, and relevant to a timely social or scholarly issue.

Once you’ve read our guide on how to write a research question , you can use these examples to craft your own.

Note that the design of your research question can depend on what method you are pursuing. Here are a few options for qualitative, quantitative, and statistical research questions.

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If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.


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  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
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Critical global water questions

New research has drawn together expert voices from across the globe to help address current and future water challenges.

Recent intense heatwaves in India and widespread US droughts have highlighted the need for a global approach to tackling chronic water shortages.

Now, new research has drawn together expert voices from across the globe to help address current and future water challenges.

Key areas identified include water scarcity, sanitation and climate dynamics. But the main concern is the way governments are equipped to deal with these challenges.

"One of the key issues raised was governance," said report co-author Dr Alesia Ofori, a Research Fellow in Water and Sanitation Governance at the University of Leeds' School of Politics and International Studies.

"In the Global South, respondents are asking why they have to listen to the Global North. Those in the Global South know what the issues are, and they are calling for big changes in access to data so they can better prepare for extreme weather."

More than 400 respondents took part in the study, in which questions about global water challenges were submitted from countries across the globe including the UK, , India, Spain, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Argentina, South Africa and Tanzania.

"A recurring theme was the call for water justice," said Dr Ofori. "They want justice for the marginalised populations who suffer from the excess consumption and pollution of the rich.

"There is also a call for justice for the local and planetary ecosystems that have been despoiled through a failure of governance on a global level."

The study, 'The top 100 global water questions: results of a scoping exercise', has just been published in One Earth and includes co-authors from the University of York, University of Bradford and Global Water Partnership-Tanzania.

The research team collected more than 4,000 responses from the 400 respondents, which were then narrowed down to 100 crucial water questions facing the planet today.

The 100 questions were grouped under the themes of water and sanitation for human settlements; water and sanitation safety risk management; water security and scarcity; hydroclimate-ecosystem- Anthropocene dynamics; multi-level governance; and knowledge production.

According to the research team, water sector partnerships are needed on a global scale to inform government decision-making on water issues that range from household to planetary levels.

Co-author Professor Anna Mdee, also at Leeds' School of Politics and International Studies, said: "The 100 top global water questions demonstrate a demand from the global water sector to address the consequences of human governance failure of water resources.

"These failures are evident on a daily basis across the planet -- from ongoing droughts in the US to the catastrophic effects of heatwaves in India -- and highlight the need for concerted efforts in interdisciplinary research and action.

"These 100 questions also highlight the importance of justice for marginalised human populations and the need for cooperation to ensure water and sanitation policies align with the current needs of individuals, populations at different scales."

Co-author Dr Victor Kongo, from the Global Water Partnership Tanzania, said: "This study provides a good platform for reflecting and internalizing our research trajectory -- what we know, what we don't know and what we urgently need to know."

  • Environmental Issues
  • Drought Research
  • Resource Shortage
  • Environmental Policies
  • Land Management
  • World Development
  • Water scarcity
  • Water resources
  • United Nations Development Programme
  • IPCC Report on Climate Change - 2007
  • Climate engineering
  • Temperature record of the past 1000 years
  • Climate change mitigation

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Leeds . Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference :

  • Anna Mdee, Alesia Ofori, Gabriela Lopez-Gonzalez, Lindsay Stringer, Julia Martin-Ortega, Sara Ahrari, Andrew Dougill, Barbara Evans, Joseph Holden, Paul Kay, Victor Kongo, Pedi Obani, Martin Tillotson, Miller Alonso Camargo-Valero. The top 100 global water questions: Results of a scoping exercise . One Earth , 2022; 5 (5): 563 DOI: 10.1016/j.oneear.2022.04.009

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Faster and Safer: Research Priorities in Water and Health

Karen setty.

a The Water Institute at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, 166 Rosenau Hall, CB #7431, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599-7431;

Jean-Francois Loret

b Suez, Centre International de Recherche sur l’Eau et l’Environnement (CIRSEE), 38 rue du President Wilson, 78230, Le Pecq, France;

Sophie Courtois

Charlotte christiane hammer.

c Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK;

Philippe Hartemann

d Université de Lorraine, Faculté de Médecine, EA 7298, ERAMBO, DESP, Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy, France;

Michel Lafforgue

e Suez Consulting, Le Bruyère 2000 - Bâtiment 1, Zone du Millénaire, 650 Rue Henri Becquerel, CS79542, 34961, Montpellier Cedex 2, France;

Xavier Litrico

f Suez, Tour CB21, 16 Place de l’Iris, 92040 Paris La Defense Cedex, France;

Tarek Manasfi

g Eawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland;

Gertjan Medema

h KWR Watercycle Research Institute, Groningenhaven 7, 3433 PE, Nieuwegein, The Netherlands;

i Delft University of Technology, Stevinweg 1, 2628 CN, Delft, The Netherlands

Mohamed Shaheen

j School of Public Health, University of Alberta, 3-300 Edmonton Clinic Health Academy, 11405 - 87 Ave, Edmonton, AB T6G 1C9, Canada;

Vincent Tesson

k French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), UMR 1114 EMMAH, 228 route de l’Aérodrome, CS 40 509, 84914 Avignon Cedex 9, France;

Jamie Bartram

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals initiated in 2016 reiterated the need for safe water and healthy lives across the globe. The tenth anniversary meeting of the International Water and Health Seminar in 2018 brought together experts, students, and practitioners, setting the stage for development of an inclusive and evidence-based research agenda on water and health. Data collection relied on a nominal group technique gathering perceived research priorities as well as underlying drivers and adaptation needs. Under a common driver of public health protection, primary research priorities included the socioeconomy of water, risk assessment and management, and improved monitoring methods and intelligence. Adaptations stemming from these drivers included translating existing knowledge to providing safe and timely services to support the diversity of human water needs. Our findings present a comprehensive agenda of topics at the forefront of water and health research. This information can frame and inform collective efforts of water and health researchers over the coming decades, contributing to improved water services, public health, and socioeconomic outcomes.


To promote public health and wellbeing, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 seeks to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” by 2030 ( UN Water, 2018 ). Many entities are scaling up efforts to address this challenge, including responses to the new aspects of SDG 6 as compared to the earlier Millennium Development Goals (1990–2015). These aspects include universality, inclusivity, cooperative participation, and “safely managed” services, as well as improved coordination with environmental protection efforts to support integrated water resource management. Evidence-informed decision-making (EIDM) is a common goal in many service provision sectors, including water, sanitation, and hygiene (WaSH). Barriers to the use of EIDM in WaSH policy and practice have included a weak enabling environment, bounded by relatively low political priority, lack of mutual accountability, poor coordination, insufficient financing, and limited data availability or relevance ( SWA, 2018 ). Because the transition to SDG 6 is accompanied by new evidence needs, it requires review of corresponding research priorities ( Setty et al., 2018b ).

Research on water and health involves both quantitative and qualitative studies, generating and matching data from a complex mixture of disciplines, such as environmental science, engineering, epidemiology, economics, hydrology, chemistry, microbiology, toxicology, human biology, sociology, anthropology, statistics, and geospatial mapping. Interventions to change processes or behaviors to improve public health are often complex. Unlike medical trials, it can be difficult to implement WaSH interventions in a controlled way, or to blind researchers and participants to randomized assignment. Some of these challenges are exacerbated in low-income settings, leading to weak main effects and strong contextual influences ( Hamilton and Mittman, 2017 ). The resulting evidence base is characterized by heterogeneity with highly variable effects dependent on site-specific characteristics. The state of evidence in WaSH may exasperate decision-makers, who look for clear, usable, and immediate guidance when policy windows open ( Brocklehurst, 2013 ; Rose et al., 2017 ).

A number of international events focus on water and health topics, including World Water Week in Stockholm, the rotating International Water Association World Water Congress and Exhibition, and the Water and Health conference in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. These events draw hundreds to thousands of participants. Since 2009, the multinational utility company Suez has likewise organized an International Water and Health Seminar annually in Cannes, France to promote meaningful exchange between researchers and practitioners. It invites senior academic experts and junior scientists (typically finishing PhD students) into a smaller forum with greater contact time. Participating experts form a standing scientific committee, and new student participants apply to attend each year. Typically, the scientific committee selects 16–20 PhD students to maximize geographical and topic diversity. Attendees have come from countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, England, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, the United States, and Wales.

We set out to explore water and health research priorities by harvesting the perspectives of participants at the 2018 International Water and Health Seminar. All participants joined a simplified nominal group technique (NGT) exercise that explored drivers, adaptation needs, and perceived research priorities. Ideally, research priority setting should be transparent, consider context, take a comprehensive stance, establish focal criteria, and include multiple categories of stakeholders ( Viergever et al., 2010 ). The NGT approach is often used in quality improvement, business, and other group settings to engender active and equal participation, and to achieve prioritization and consensus ( CDC, 2006 ; Tague, 2004 ).

We applied a simplified and slightly modified NGT ( CDC, 2006 ; Tague, 2004 ) including all participants at the 2018 International Water and Health Seminar held in Cannes, France. This in-person, participatory method was selected as a structured and inclusive way to develop consensus among a fairly large and mixed group of researchers and practitioners (water and sanitation service providers). It aimed to achieve theoretical saturation (comprehensive exploration of research themes) by not limiting the number of submissions per person and triangulating concepts through multiple rounds of inquiry ( Saunders et al., 2018 ). The technique was adapted because of time constraints, and used a color indicator for paper submissions to confidentially record, and permit analysis of, differences in perceptions among the three types of participants: academics, students, and practitioners. We also examined past programs and prepared summary statistics to compare results to presentation topics from the first ten years of the seminar (2009–2018). Owing to the expansive topic, data interpretation included a group-based narrative review ( Dijkers, 2009 ) focused on the most pertinent literature relevant to each research theme.

Data collection

Thirty-three participants (8 senior academic researchers, 10 Suez research staff members, and 15 doctoral or postdoctoral scholars) attended the seminar. All agreed to participate in the NGT exercise. No compensation was offered, nor any penalty for choosing not to participate. Most participants came from Europe, with representatives from the US, Canada, and Australia; names, classifications, and institutions of participants are listed in the acknowledgements. The students were at an advanced trainee level in their careers, pursuing pre- or postdoctoral research, while the academics held advanced degrees and professorships and were generally late career. Professional attendees ranged from early- to mid- to late-career and were permanent or contract employees of research and development branches within Suez, a large multinational utility group headquartered in France. The seminar and NGT sessions were conducted in English, which was a second language for some participants. In consultation with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Office of Human Research Ethics, the study was not submitted for formal IRB approval because the information gathered related to the research needs assessment rather than the participants themselves.

Five days before the seminar, all participants received an email with written instructions concerning the exercise. Participants were asked to consider questions about water and health research priorities, but not to share their ideas with others. The scope of “water and health” was deliberately not defined, as the scope of understanding of the term was itself of interest. The instructions requested feedback at the seminar on research themes separately from research questions, but during the exercise these categories were merged and a new question was added on adaptations to the underlying drivers.

At the seminar, two sessions of NGT were conducted. In each, no prior knowledge of the instructions was assumed and participants were briefly introduced to the question(s) to be tackled. Ten to twelve minutes were dedicated to “silent idea generation” in which participants recorded each of their ideas on sticky note paper, with different colors to differentiate ideas from different participant groups (students, academics, and practitioners). The practice of writing responses before sharing ensured accountability to the original idea and equal participation, to prevent cognitive “anchoring and adjustment” or reporting bias based on what others shared with the group. The facilitator (JB) served as a participant in accordance with good practice for NGT.

Method modifications of standard NGT ( CDC, 2006 ; Tague, 2004 ) included (a) accepting clustered contributions after the first round, and (b) performing counting for prioritization afterwards, following electronic data entry. One round of round-robin idea presentation was conducted in which each participant described one idea from their sticky notes and the note was added to a display board. Notes were loosely organized into categories, typically proposed by the person who first raised a new idea, and grouped by joining similar submissions as themes emerged. Subsequent rounds proceeded similarly, except that to conserve time, individuals were permitted to offer up notes duplicative of or similar to an idea being presented at any time, without waiting for their next turn, keeping them in the same grouping with the original idea. Rounds continued until all ideas were exhausted. Participants then checked the results on the boards, discussed, and modified the idea organization and groupings. The outcome was adopted by informal consensus and transcribed into an electronic record.

The first round involved all groups of participants (students, academics, and practitioners) and lasted approximately two hours. It addressed two questions (drivers and research questions), and participants indicated at the time of presentation whether the idea they were presenting was a driver or a research question/theme. The second session took place two days after the first, and lasted approximately two hours. It addressed practical adaptations to the drivers and involved only the academics and practitioners, as students were assumed to have less applied experience.

Data processing

We inductively compared responses based on the three different approaches using different questions ( Figure 1 ) to identify prominent research priorities, underlying drivers, and adaptations. A research agenda was constructed primarily using input on research questions, with cross-comparison for sensitivity to drivers and adaptations. The participant input was similarly cross-compared with prior program topics gleaned from annual programs from 2009–2018. This data triangulation helped to ensure missing topics and perspectives were covered. Several authors separately assessed data via conventional qualitative content analysis ( Hsieh and Shannon, 2005 ), using line-by-line (in vivo) coding in most cases, to evaluate the frequency of subthemes as a basis for presentation of findings and discussion.

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Object name is nihms-1525311-f0001.jpg

Relationship between three lines of inquiry pursued using the NGT method to support data triangulation and comprehension.

The relatively rapid sorting into themes at the in-person sessions was supplemented with follow-up checks involving two authors (JB and KS). Using the submitted research priorities and categorical organization as the primary input, category wording was harmonized to create a set of distinct concepts related to the umbrella of water and health. First, alternative categorization schemes were explored to determine which best fit the data. Second, categories with three or fewer nominated research topics were merged into other larger categories, and dominant subcategories were elevated to categories to create a relatively even distribution of topics. Third, each category assignment was reviewed and some research topics were reassigned, using the original wording of the submission and giving deference to the original category assignment if wording was unclear. Categories were ordered by frequency of topic nomination, counting each entry as one “vote,” as a means to convey overall prominence. Finally, the wording of each submission was revised to correct minor spelling and grammar errors, to help clearly convey the intended topic. In some cases, for example when inferring the meaning of acronyms, the most probably meaning in common use was assigned, although alternative meanings were possible.

Input based on submitted drivers and adaptations were reviewed and cross-compared with the research priorities, to identify gaps and novel insights. Additionally, the research priorities were compared with topics from the 10-year history of the Cannes seminar, to offer insight as to trends over time. This involved assignment of topics to themes by year by a third author (JFL). All participants were offered a follow-up opportunity to help with data interpretation and contribute to manuscript preparation. As a result, the draft results were shared with a sub-group of participants who volunteered, to continue to validate and refine understanding of the results in a participatory manner. This team-based approach engendered a narrative literature review of the most relevant references on each topic, to aid communication and uptake of the findings.


We tracked participant type, numbers of submitted “ideas,” and average per-person idea generation rates to characterize representation ( Table 1 ). Since no limit was assigned, the estimated number of submissions per individual ranged from approximately five to 25.

Number of participants and responses submitted at the seminar workshop by respondent type and round of questioning

Research priorities

Refinement of the draft topic categorization initiated at the in-person sessions helped to solidify eleven major themes capturing water and health research priorities ( Figure 2 ). A somewhat broad category about the social, political, economic and other context in which people use water was of greatest concern, reflecting increased attention toward sustainable global development and soft science in addition to engineering approaches. Next, some traditional disciplines such as water quality, water treatment, and water microbiology were prominent. Risk assessment and management, sanitation, and water resources held a moderate position. Less frequent emergent categories included information and artificial intelligence, real-time or rapid methods, water reuse, and the water-energy nexus. Some key subthemes also emerged across categories or nested within categories. These included technological innovation, metagenomics, “one health,” and disinfection.

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Identified water and health research priorities, with themes and subthemes in order of frequency of research question submissions (in parentheses)


Using three different approaches (i.e., requesting research priorities directly versus asking indirectly about prevalent drivers and adaptations) allowed triangulation of the data from multiple perspectives. Similarities and differences among responses contributed to the framing of the research agenda. Overall, they revolved around protecting human health in the face of global changes as a critical underlying concept. Pure environmental (including wildlife and domestic animal) protection played a lesser role. Although deemed important by a number of participants, ecological sustainability represents a newer aspect of WaSH development goals. In many cases, environmental science, agriculture, and public health fields have traditionally had separate regulatory and research-funding structures, which may fail to promote disciplinary overlap. Shifts toward unified planetary health were recognized during participatory review of the study as a newer paradigm that will ultimately affect research drivers.

Drivers fell into seven categories: demographic change, climate, chemicals, microbes, infrastructure, nexus systems, and socio-political demands. In comparing drivers to the research themes, the perspective of drivers emphasized the health concerns underlying the research topics, which largely focused on water and sanitation services. Some categories overlapped with the research questions and themes. For instance, nexus-related topics captured energy ( Figure 2 ) as well as trends in food production, soil conditions, and shifting plant life. Climate change appeared as a prominent driver for weather-related risks, and was also mentioned under risk assessment and management ( Figure 2 ). Shifts in chemical production, especially of micropollutants, likewise linked to research questions under risk assessment and management, water quality, and water treatment.

Other driver topics were less prominent among the research questions. Sociopolitical shifts, such as increasing attention to equity and changing international relations, indirectly matched with the socioeconomy of water category, and thus might underlie all research themes. Commonly-referenced drivers for changes in service needs and water-related health vulnerabilities included demographic trends, such as population growth, aging populations, and migration (especially to urban areas). The research themes overlooked some drivers such as antimicrobial resistance and emerging diseases, both of which should fall under the water microbiology category. Aging infrastructure appeared as a prominent driver, but was mentioned less frequently as a research need, relative to information and artificial intelligence as well as water treatment.


Due to the smaller group size, the adaptations had fewer submitted ideas and in-seminar groupings. The main overlap with the research questions was a category called knowledge management and data science, corresponding to the information and artificial intelligence research category. Additional analysis revealed that the draft groupings of adaptations could be broken down further, and all research categories related to at least one adaptation idea submission. Secondary groupings related to the use of science to inform policy and regulations, as well as improved service provision. Subthemes included integration across systems, sectors, and exposures (e.g., engineering for complex systems with interdependencies and trade-offs); decentralization (e.g., of treatment infrastructure and monitoring capabilities); safety and surveillance, and responsiveness (e.g., to crises or situations of increased demand like migration or local droughts). In connection with sanitation, human biomonitoring (e.g., via sewage) emerged as a human health-oriented complement to established environmental health monitoring approaches. Such bridges address traditional divides between environmental protection and human health regulations. Surveillance responsibilities may be siloed among different entities, though, limiting rapid and effective communication and response.

Topics from prior seminar programs

Though presentation topics varied widely over the past ten years of the seminar (2009–2018), four primary categories could be identified: microbiology, chemistry, general topics (e.g., policies, modeling, risk management), and technology ( Figure 3 ). Subcategories further broke down these classifications. For water microbiology, Legionella , amoeba, and intra-amoebal pathogens were the most popular topics. For water quality, occurrence and treatment of micropollutants were prevalent in past seminars. Epidemiology and public health surveillance took the lead for the general category, mirroring the NGT adaptation topics. Biofiltration and biodegradation took the lead under technology. Additional prominent subcategories included pharmaceuticals and endocrine disruptors, antimicrobial resistance, nanomaterials, virus occurrence and treatment, perfluorates, and biofilms. Many of these topics matched those raised in the NGT sessions in 2018, although the prevalent terminology may have evolved over time. For instance, the microbiome and metagenomics appear more frequently in recent years, building on concepts prominent in earlier years such as biofilms and “viable but not culturable” bacterial cells.

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Broad categorization of past seminar topics (2009–2018, inclusive)

Some previous presentation topics not mentioned in the NGT included specific viruses (e.g., Ebola, adenovirus, norovirus), parasites (e.g., Cryptosporidium ), and bacteria (enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli , Shigella , Helicobacter ), as well as perfluorinated chemicals, biofiltration, biodegradation, advanced oxidation, and recreational waters. These might reflect oversights, actual shifts in attention, or the wider stance requested for the exercise versus the specificity of individual research presentations, as these topics remain globally prominent. The focus on single pathogens, contaminants, or treatment approaches may also have given way to more holistic approaches to water safety, with the understanding that biological and chemical threats are constantly evolving. Surprisingly, the SDGs were not explicitly mentioned in the NGT, perhaps because they were recognized implicitly. Terrorism was a more prominent topic in past years, but in 2018 was included as one type of risk under risk assessment and management.


The classification of submissions as coming from students, academics, or practitioners permitted observations about similarities and differences in perspective among stakeholder groups. In general, practitioners submitted more ideas than the academics or students, who provided roughly the same number of submissions. Past seminar topics were not broken down by contributor type, but came predominantly from academic and student attendees at the seminar, and reflected somewhat narrower topic specificity than the NGT.

Regarding drivers , students did not raise infrastructure issues. Among adaptations , few trends or contrasts were apparent in the diversity of suggestions by practitioners and academics. Within the knowledge management and data science category, practitioners dominantly raised real-time security. Within the research questions , all submissions on development of rapid or real-time monitoring methods and most submissions on the water-energy nexus and water reuse came from practitioners. Few students at the NGT expressed ideas about risk assessment and management or sanitation, although former students covered these topics in past seminars. Few academics addressed the socioeconomy of water, which may reflect a greater degree of specialization in other areas.

Within the umbrella topic of water and health, we present discussion around key themes and subthemes in order of decreasing frequency of participant submissions ( Figure 2 ). Aspects introduced through the data triangulation methods are integrated within the same thematic areas. The scope of participants’ understanding of “water and health” appeared to match the scope of the event itself, which focused on natural, social, and health sciences connected to water and wastewater services. It delved less frequently into water policy. Due to the natural overlap among these thematic categories, some topics were assigned to the closest fit while others appear in multiple contexts.

Socioeconomy of water

The socioeconomy of water concerns interactions of sociology, behavior, culture, and economics with water needs. Socioeconomic issues underlie many other water usage and safety concerns, as they make up the wider contextual structures in which water systems operate. This theme presents an opportunity to identify synergies among topics and issues, and traverse traditional disciplinary fields of research. Integration of different fields and novel combinations of viewpoints such as political ecology, international security, and anthropology can enhance understanding of the complexities of socioeconomic, socio-cultural, and broader water research questions, as well as their impacts on water safety and resilience. Integrated approaches can help to model complex systems ripe with interdependencies and trade-offs. Within this topic, contributions from participants broadly fit into three key subthemes: human factors, governance, and interdisciplinarity. Based on drivers, this theme must consider shifting international relations, demographic trends, and transboundary issues, such as increased migration. Considering the drivers and adaptations, aging infrastructure was another reality that will require added long-term investment and efficient planning ( Value of Water Campaign, 2017 ).

Human factors consist of attitudes, cultures, and practices. They include broad philosophical approaches towards the meaning of water ( Lycan, 2010 ) as well as applied issues such as perceptions and attitudes towards water conservation ( Tarlock, 1987 ; Hermanowicz, 2008 ) and wastewater reuse ( Po et al., 2003 ; Hartley, 2006 ). Further research in these fields should accompany future technological advances and socio-political changes, considering both their empirical and ethical implications for complex water systems. For instance, community-based and public participation in research processes may help redress inequities perpetuated by prevalent power dynamics in science ( Kemmis et al., 2016 ). Equity and social and environmental justice topics were underrepresented at the seminar, but may be a vital component of research context in both low- and high-income settings (e.g., Stillo and MacDonald Gibson, 2017 ). These contextual factors are likely to affect the selection and implementation of water and public health system interventions.

Governance issues include diverse settings from industrialized smart cities to resource-poor settings such as slums. In this field, research has focused on issues such as equitable and affordable access to safe water, which remains integral to accomplishing global development goals ( Onda et al., 2012 ). This subtheme spans access to piped water and wastewater disposal, as well as the health outcomes of limited access, for instance stemming from water carriage over large distances ( Geere et al., 2018 ; Sorenson et al., 2011 ). Water governance broadly encompasses situations of limited water ( Kummu et al., 2010 ) and increasing pressures from climate change across different world regions as diverse as Australia ( Dijk et al., 2013 ), the Middle East ( Hadadin et al., 2010 ), South Africa ( Mukheibir, 2008 ), China ( Cheng et al., 2009 ), and North America ( Gober and Kirkwood, 2010 ). Associated challenges for water conservation thus interact with many of the human factors mentioned above.

The third field concerns interdisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity, and the integration of social sciences, natural sciences, engineering, and operational research. This is at the forefront of many fields, especially in the context of “One Health” ( Min et al., 2013 ; Manlove et al., 2016 ), planetary health ( Galway et al., 2016 ), nutrition ( Picchioni et al., 2017 ), and other fields ( Morillo et al., 2003 ). Brown et al. (2015) mapped out how such an approach can lead to fruitful collaboration within and beyond the field of water research by forging a shared mission, developing “T-shaped” researchers, nurturing constructive dialogue, offering institutional support, and bridging research, policy, and practice. These approaches are especially important in water and health research due to the inherent integration of scientific inquiry with applied solutions in a complex socio-political environment. One example is the relationship between water and wastewater pricing and human behavior, where microeconomics (traditionally a business field) informs good water provision practices ( Nauges and Whittington, 2017 ).

Water quality

The notion of water quality, defined as measurement and understanding of how compounds and organisms in water can influence human and environmental health, has evolved alongside scientific and technical progress. It was essentially limited to organoleptic descriptors (color, odor, taste and temperature) until the early 19 th century ( Symons, 2006 ). The emergence of epidemiology and bacteriology resulted in the development of water disinfection and microbial indicators as new quality parameters, representing substantive public health achievements ( CDC, 1999 , Sedlak, 2014 ). Developments in analytical chemistry during the second half of the 20 th century led to an increasing number of new chemical parameters ( Trussel, 2006 ). The consciousness raised by a series of popular works (e.g., Carson, 1962 ; Colborn et al., 1996 ) likewise contributed to expanding the lists of quality parameters to encompass pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and endocrine disruptors. To measure and understand how compounds and organisms in water can influence human health, NGT participants recommended continued improvement in analytical methods for chemical and microbial contaminants. Subthemes raised by participants included microplastics, disinfection byproducts (DBPs), antimicrobial resistance, perfluorinated chemicals, toxicity detection, Water Safety Plans, and security issues. Microplastics have recently been an area of intense activity, especially in marine waters, but questions regarding their potential health effects on humans and the significance of waterborne exposure remain unanswered ( Rocha-Santos, 2018 ). DBPs remain major concern in drinking and recreational waters, with increased attention on understanding formation from different precursors, toxicity, and strategies to reduce or eliminate formation ( Li and Mitch, 2018 ; Manasfi et al., 2018 ). Antimicrobial resistance represents a major and increasing threat to public health, and the role of waste and drinking waters in the transmission of resistance genes needs to be clarified ( Manaia, 2017 , Wuijts, et al., 2017 ). Perfluorinated compounds such as PFOA and PFOS have gained increased public attention due to the potential health effects of levels found in source water and drinking water ( Morrison, 2016 ).

In-vitro bioassays for toxicity detection used for more than half a century to assess the safety of water reuse schemes have demonstrated their usefulness for the assessment of complex mixtures of pollutants. Their application, however, is still limited by lack of demonstration of the linkages between in-vitro and in-vivo response, and difficulty in interpreting results ( Leusch & Snyder, 2015 ). Water Safety Plans (incorporating water quality and security issues) have been recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) since 2004 ( WHO, 2004 ) and are being deployed worldwide. Their application should lead to improved ways of assessing water quality using real-time parameters and on-line sensors for operational control (e.g., turbidity at filter outlet or intrusion detection), in addition to typically lengthier time-to-result laboratory analyses used for compliance.

Water treatment

Water treatment includes technology, infrastructure, and methods for ensuring safe water supply. Since water treatment technologies may be tailored to a range of sources including surface water, groundwater, marine water, stormwater, and recycled wastewater, this thematic area overlaps with water resources, water reuse, and sanitation. Ensuring safe water supply requires a holistic perspective and attention to four main subthemes: cost-effectiveness of treatment and treatment upgrades (e.g., membranes); avoidance or removal of chemical additives, DBPs, and emerging contaminants; alternatives for pathogen removal or disinfection; and ecological sustainability (e.g., safe disposal of brine waste from seawater desalination). An additional participant contribution focused on updating treatment technologies for distributed (cellular) systems and water reuse. In reference to drivers and adaptations, much of the world’s water treatment infrastructure was constructed in the latter half of the twentieth century, and is increasingly in need of repair or replacement ( Moe and Rheingans, 2006 ).

Updates to water treatment systems must take into account the best available technology, as well as cost, resilience, and environmental constraints. Cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analyses require accessible methods (e.g., Whittington and Hanemann, 2006 ) that consider costs and benefits accrued beyond the utility, for instance to the public and the environment. Such plans are especially pertinent when planning to replace or repair infrastructure that can flexibly meet needs (e.g., for a growing or declining population) over a multi-decadal lifespan. In addition to disinfection methods using chlorine, ozone, or ultraviolet light (UV), novel disinfection methods might include induction of autolysis of bacteria in water systems, for instance using quorum-sensing particles or bacteriophages. Limiting the formation of DBPs was recognized as a driver for this subtheme ( Li and Mitch, 2018 ). While new approaches are constantly under development, consideration of the health impacts of pathogen reduction by various methods and degrees would help to support decision-making. The extension of the SDGs to serve all, including remote populations in unique environments, requires added attention to water treatment decentralization and conservation via onsite reuse ( Insight et al., 2017 ).

Water microbiology

Water microbiology research concerns microbial communities and their effects on water resources and human or animal health. Microbes can float freely in water, attach to particles, aerosolize, or live in biofilms (slimy matrices that form on surfaces). Knowledge about pathogenic microorganisms in water and wastewater has saved millions of lives over the last century from enteric disease outbreaks such as cholera ( Rosen, 2015 ; Schlipköter and Flahault, 2010 ) and typhoid. The drinking water microbiome may comprise up to 40 phyla, which change during various stages of water treatment and distribution ( Proctor and Hammes, 2015 ). The primary global burden of disease is associated with enteric pathogens spread via water and food, particularly rotavirus, Cryptosporidium, Shigella, and Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) ( Kotloff, 2017 ). Microbes and their pathogenicity are constantly evolving in response to environmental stimuli, which can lead to antimicrobial resistance and emerging human diseases. Topics raised by participants included interaction within microbiomes and biofilms, community stability or regrowth (e.g., in distributed or stored water), and investigative tools such as metagenomics.

Among biological hazards to human health, water treatment processes have traditionally targeted enteric pathogens only ( Fewtrell and Bartram, 2001 ) and these continue to be critical for safety ( Setty et al., 2018a ). More recently, disease outbreaks associated with treated water and other water systems, such as cooling towers, show a significant increase in respiratory diseases caused by water-based opportunistic pathogens such as Legionella pneumophila ( Beer et al., 2015 ; Gargano et al., 2017 ). Effective and safe drinking water distribution systems and plumbing systems in large buildings ( Cunliffe et al., 2011 ) are crucial to protect and improve health. Water treatment processes, nutrients, disinfection residuals, DBPs, and the abiotic factors of distribution systems and on-premises plumbing (e.g., stagnation of water, temperature) have significant impacts on the microbial community of tap water and associated water quality ( Wang et al., 2018 ). Moreover, free-living amoebae and some other protozoa present in distribution systems protect certain bacterial pathogens from disinfectants and support intracellular growth of pathogens like Legionella ( Balczun and Scheid, 2017 ; Lu et al., 2014 ; Pagnier et al., 2015 ).

Microbial quality and chemical quality interact, especially where chemical disinfectants used for microbial inactivation give rise to added chemical hazards. One primary concern has been the health effects of DBPs, since many are considered carcinogenic ( Richardson et al., 2007 ). Some suggest adapting treatment processes to select for bacteria such as Rhodococcus and Mycobacterium , which are capable of biodegrading DBPs ( Sharp et al., 2010 ; Gerrity et al., 2018 ). Yet, another concern is inadvertent selection of disinfectant-resistant bacteria such as mycobacteria or antimicrobial resistant bacteria that can opportunistically cause infection in immunocompromised people ( Von Reyn et al., 1994 ; Whiley et al., 2012 ; Gerrity et al., 2018 ; Liu et al., 2018 ; Potgieter et al., 2018 ; Stüken et al., 2018 ). Thus, manipulation of microbial ecology to promote “beneficial” microbes is an important area of continuing research.

Advancement in gene sequencing methods provide exciting new insights and opportunities for water microbiology research, although the presence of nucleic acids does not translate directly to infectivity ( Tan et al., 2015 ). Future research might target biological processes in water treatment, use of metagenomics to characterize occurrence and fate of antimicrobial resistance genes, the virome of wastewater, or microbial ecology. Understanding microbial ecology is important to design sustainable and safe water systems. Some studies suggest that tap water bacterial composition depends primarily on treatment processes rather than source water ( Wang et al., 2013 ; Zhang et al., 2017 ). Thus, the microorganisms and DBPs present in treated drinking water could alter the microbiota in the human gut, which would ultimately influence human health (e.g., Von Hertzen et al., 2007 ). A better understanding these relationships could inform the best drinking water management approaches for achieving public health benefits.

Risk assessment and management

Risk assessment and management consists of technologies, methods, behaviors, and processes that support conversion of evidence about risk to planning and mitigation among stakeholders. This often involves ranking different hazards harmful to people at different life stages, taking into account mortality, illness (disability-adjusted life years or DALYs), and other types of consequences. Subthemes of participant contributions on this topic included: (a) management tools for combining multiple types or measures of risk under a common framework, (b) risks related to extreme weather events, (c) security in the face of political instability (e.g., war or terror attacks), and (d) accounting for uncertainties and unknown risks. An additional submission related to the water microbiology and information and artificial intelligence categories suggested using burgeoning data availability (e.g., metagenomics and other “omics”) to inform risk management. Changing demographics represented a relevant driver, as this may lead to shifts in the sensitivity or receptivity of populations to various hazards.

Multiple risk management tools and approaches were raised as potential options for water systems, including synthesis frameworks such as Water Safety Plans ( Bartram et al., 2009 ), quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA; Petterson and Ashbolt, 2016 ) for microbial pathogens, as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA; Lindhe et al., 2010 ) principles for contaminant reduction, and geospatial modeling (e.g., Lafforgue et al., 2018 ). One issue may be how to combine data-driven management of multiple risk categories (e.g., water quality, financial risk, reputational risk). Risk management programs such as Water Safety Plans have been actively piloted and evaluated in recent years ( WHO and IWA, 2017 ), demonstrating potential benefits to public health ( Gunnarsdóttir, et al., 2012 ; Setty et al., 2017 ), but work remains to facilitate an enabling implementation environment in both low-middle and high-income countries ( Baum and Bartram, 2018 ). While most efforts in past decades were dedicated to managing chemical hazards, emerging risks are more often linked to microorganisms ( Rusin et al., 1997 ). Based on prior seminar topics, risk assessment related to nanotechnology is needed as compounds may be more or less toxic at the nanoscale ( Rocha-Santos, 2018 ). Climate extremes are expected to become more severe in coming decades ( IPCC, 2014 ), leading to a great deal of research among water suppliers, environmental managers, and public health officers around mechanisms for planning, adaptation, and resilience ( Deere, 2017 ).

Regarding security, the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 led to greater awareness around water supply vulnerabilities ( Camarillo et al., 2014 ). Safety largely requires responsiveness to both urgent and subtle water crises, including those with non-malevolent causes such as long-term drought or shifting water demands. In the NGT exercise, hospitals were mentioned as a particularly vulnerable type of institution, mirroring newer findings of poor attention to water, sanitation, and hygiene systems in settings with greater-than-average immunocompromised populations at risk of infectious diseases ( WHO & UNICEF, 2015 ). Loss of hospital water supplies (e.g., due to a crisis or intermittent service) puts patients at greater risk and often requires compromises in sanitary procedures or physiologically stressful patient transfers. Approach and methodology options for addressing uncertainty and unknown risks include the precautionary principle, expert consultation, probabilistic inference, sensitivity tests, fuzzy-set theory, value-based weighting preferences, or conditional rules ( Almaarofi et al., 2017 ; Dominguez-Chicas and Scrimshaw, 2010 ; Petterson and Ashbolt, 2016 ). Automated data production, management, and decision-support systems may aid in earlier detection of risks, enabling faster response times.

Sanitation considers management of human excreta, wastewater, and solid waste to lessen negative human, animal, and environmental consequences. Within this area, key subthemes raised by participants included access to sanitation services and improving their quality, especially using decentralized wastewater treatment systems (DEWATS). Priorities also included improving knowledge of pathogens and micropollutants in liquid and solid waste disposal, particularly for risks associated with their persistence, removal from wastewater, and the sanitary, environmental, and occupational implications. In sum, these topics complement the water resources and socioeconomic subthemes, and create synergies for enhancing usability of freshwater and marine resources.

Ensuring availability and improvement of sanitation systems has been an area of intense activity. The WHO and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (JMP) reported that more than 2.1 billion people gained access to improved sanitation between 1990 and 2015 ( WHO and UNICEF, 2017 ). Still, more than 2.4 billion people had no access to improved sanitation and 1 billion remained without any sanitation system. Taking into account the ambitious new service norm of “safely managed” sanitation, meaning a household has an improved facility with in-situ excreta disposal or transport and treatment offsite, a whopping 5.3 billion people lacked coverage ( WHO and UNICEF, 2017 ). Decentralization appears as a logical evolution for handling increasing loads of wastewater and urban stormwater. A study published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) demonstrated the potential for sustainable decentralized water resource management in urban environments, with better flexibility and at a lower cost than current sanitation systems ( OECD, 2015 ). In addition, many urban centers continue to seek solutions for managing concentrated urban runoff, in some cases by facilitating treatment of discharge collected by separate or combined sewer systems ( Barbosa et al., 2012 ).

Better knowledge of the fate of pathogens and micropollutants from wastewater represents a valuable addition to the research docket, as it will improve understanding and management of subsequent risks to public health ( Campos et al., 2016 ; Gavrilescu et al., 2015 ). Along with molecular and chromatographic methods, high-throughput sequencing and mass spectrometry have enabled more rapid analysis of their transport, dissemination, and persistence in the environment. Still, researchers have limited information on both the long-term effects of micropollutant cocktails and their relationship with the emergence of new bacterial and viral pathogens ( Jekel et al., 2013 ; Sano et al., 2016 ). Concerning the implications of waste disposal, some studies have addressed wastewater reuse and solid waste disposal ( Kellis et al., 2013 ; Kinnaman, 2017 ; Maimon et al., 2010 ), but more attention is needed to determine method effectiveness and pollutant persistence. Seminar participants felt that wastewater reusability (e.g., for water, energy, nutrients) and mastery of pollutant removal were critical components of waste management for the next 5–10 years. Forward-looking commentary on adaptations and the potential use of wastewater revolved around public health surveillance via human biomonitoring ( Joas et al., 2017 ).

Water resources

Water resources refers to conservation of existing and potential new ambient water supplies for human and ecological use. Research priorities primarily fell into two subthemes: (a) water supply quantity and quality stressors and (b) water management solutions. Quantity stressors included shortage, drought, and water loss. Quality stressors related to industrial, agricultural, and other pollutant sources that lead to groundwater contamination and fecal pollution in watersheds. Regarding management solutions, participants cited protection, conservation, improved management planning at the watershed level, and attention to irrigation practices. To achieve SDG 6, the 2018 United Nations’ world water development report emphasizes nature-based solutions tapping wastewater as an underused resource ( WWAP/UN-Water, 2018 ), consistent with the sanitation theme above.

Water resources planning and accounting will require projection of suspected stressors, such as climate change ( Olmstead, 2014 ). Accounting concepts include a water footprint, defined as the total volume of freshwater used directly and indirectly by a nation or a company, or in the provision of a product or service ( Chenoweth et al., 2014 ). Economic approaches such as payment for environmental services (PES) represents a potential option to protect water quality at the watershed scale ( Lafforgue, 2016 ). Bioremediation and source tracking methods were similarly raised as management tools to address pollutant fate and movement within surface and groundwater. Overlapping with the water reuse category, an additional submission had to do with considering the circular economy of water resources in which uncontaminated water circulates in closed loops, allowing repeated use ( Eneng et al., 2018 ) rather than traditional collection, use, and disposal into the environment.

Information and artificial intelligence

This category revolves around data collection and processing to enable EIDM. Few submissions were repetitive or demonstrative of trends, suggesting a wide array of needs in this research area. Data modeling was a research need for holistically considering contaminant sources, pathways, effects on water quality, and control options at a systems level inclusive of the watershed, infrastructure, and receptors (e.g., Lafforgue et al, 2018 ). Other needs included management, transmission, integration, and safe storage of large amounts of data from diverse sources (e.g., watershed, water supply and treatment, public health, open data, video streams, social media). Appropriate instrumentation and centralized management systems should be developed to accomplish these tasks. Speed was of key concern, for example using artificial intelligence as an alternative to long, difficult, and costly epidemiology studies.

Experts recognize care should be taken in communicating the potential for artificial intelligence to replace existing methods. For instance, Google Flu Trends ( Ginsberg, 2009 ) was released in 2006, but withdrawn after a few years due to its tendency to over-predict influenza infections based on Google search data. Despite some limitations, data analytics and artificial intelligence will be considered useful and necessary tools to explore data and contribute to better management of water systems in the future. Participants recommended data systems both to survey ongoing performance shifts and to detect or diagnose abnormalities (e.g., in infrastructure integrity). Optimization exercises can help to solve complex water network design or health hazard problems, taking into account many different criteria, and leading to better solutions than manual design (e.g., Maier et al., 2014 ).

Real-time/rapid methods

Real-time monitoring of drinking water systems includes the technologies and data systems that help managers to maintain safety and respond quickly to accidental or malevolent incidents. Participant feedback dealt with early, real-time, online, and point-of-use contaminant detection, spanning both chemical and biological parameters. In addition to informing water treatment processes, participants anticipated deployment of sensors in source water, distribution systems, and at the point of use to maintain active surveillance and problem detection.

Research interest has been growing in online monitoring for both chemical and biological water quality, including harmful algal bloom (HAB) toxins ( Storey et al. 2011 ; Lopez-Roldan et al. 2013 ). Online monitoring equipment can be installed as an early warning system for the water intake, treatment process monitoring and main entry points to the distribution system. In ambient waters, real-time and rapid methods also concern water-contact and other recreational uses. Complexity derives from the current impossibility of constructing a single sensor to detect all contaminants or pathogens. Studies investigating the performance of various water quality sensors on different contamination patterns suggest monitoring changes to conventional parameters, such as pH, temperature, turbidity, electrical conductivity, and free chlorine concentration, may sufficiently address concerns associated with health risk, customer perceptions (aesthetic taste and odor), and asset management ( Hall et al. 2007 ).

Such monitoring systems should distinguish abnormal changes from normal variations. Thus, event detection models are required for exploring the time series of each water quality parameter and detecting anomalies in water supply systems and networks ( Housh & Ostfeld 2015 ). The cost for sensor deployment and operation limits the number of locations that can be monitored in real time. Future studies will likely aim to develop low-cost and miniaturized sensor technologies to make continuous and complete monitoring possible throughout a water system. In addition to treatment facilities, participants raised installing sensors in distribution pipes (such as sensor chips attached to pipe walls), consumer taps, and individual water meters.

Water reuse

Water reuse refers to safe reuse and recycling to enable sustainable water supplies for human and ecological use. Increasing water supply challenges, aggravated by human population growth and climate change, have driven interest in water reuse as a main component of the new era of water management ( Hering et al., 2013 ). Within this area, key subthemes raised by participants included: technologies for the treatment and reuse of wastewater or alternative water sources, health risks associated with water reuse in particular for potable purpose, and public perception and acceptance of water reuse for potable and non-potable (e.g., agriculture, industry, toilet flushing) purposes.

Research into engineered treatment technologies has been intense, including membrane filtration and oxidation treatment to eliminate microbial and chemical contaminants ( Tang et al., 2018 ; Zodrow et al. 2017 ). Recent advances in membrane technology, particularly reverse osmosis (RO), have played a key role in producing highly purified recycled water and driving an increase in water reuse projects worldwide. This research aims to achieve cost-effectiveness and reliability in removing microbial and chemical contaminants ( Tang et al., 2018 ). Since some chemical contaminants (e.g., certain DBPs, pharmaceuticals) can cross RO membranes, post-RO oxidation treatments capable of removing these contaminants have been integrated into treatment schemes. Traditionally, advanced oxidation processes that generate hydroxyl radicals have been used, and electrochemistry-based oxidation treatment has been attracting increasing attention ( Feng et al., 2016 ). The degree of adoption of any technology will depend on its effectiveness, energy demands, feasibilty, and integration into future water treatment systems ( von Gunten, 2018 ). Nature-based solutions such as managed aquifer recharge (MAR) and biofiltration similarly show promise for promoting water reuse ( Water JPI, 2016 ).

To enhance understanding around the safety of water reuse, further toxicological and epidemiological studies are warranted ( NRC, 2012 ). In exposure circumstances where toxicological and epidemiological dose-response data are lacking, risk assessment can account for uncertainty and use the best available knowledge to support design of safe reuse systems ( NRC, 2012 ). Further, quality assurance of treatment schemes with regard to elimination of chemical and biological contaminants, economic effectiveness, and feasibility of integration into water systems must be resolved to demonstrate usefulness of novel treatment approaches, for example via studying the scaled-up engineering designs ( Lazarova et al, 2013 ). Water reuse may be an especially efficient option in water-scarce contexts, where regulation permits reuse and other options cost more ( Lafforgue and Lenouvel, 2015 ).

In sum, water reuse complements other efforts to increase water availability (e.g., conservation, desalination) and appears as a critical component of ongoing sustainable water management. Some participants mentioned public perception of water reuse, which overlaps with the socioeconomy of water. Public acceptance of water reuse is a prominent factor in determining the future of water reuse, as it significantly influences political decisions on water reuse projects ( Dolnicar et al., 2011 ).

Water-energy nexus

The water-energy nexus refers to the study of how energy use interacts with provision of sustainable water services. Within this area, key subthemes raised by participants included resource rarefaction (water, energy, raw materials) and how to counteract this phenomenon by developing synergies between water-energy-waste cycles, redefining water and sanitation using decentralized and renewable energy-based solutions, safe water treatment at a low energy cost, and microbial fuel cells for sustainable energy production.

Water rarefaction is increasing due to long-term increases in water abstraction, declining resource availability ( Damania et al., 2017 ; 2030 Water Resources Group, 2009 ), and the projected effects of climate change. Research focuses on three main options: increasing water production by desalination, reducing abstraction by recycling urban waters, and reducing water consumption and water losses. However, desalination and water recycling frequently use energy-intensive membrane filtration, replacing a problem by another one. Singapore, for example, is an island city-state faced with this issue ( Lenouvel et al., 2014 ). An integrated perspective would account for such risk substitution.

For instance, the Water and Wastewater Companies for Climate Mitigation (WaCCLIM) roadmap to carbon neutrality in urban water recommends research into low-energy options to produce, transfer and purify water ( Ballard et al., 2018 ). One option is to recover or produce energy from water (e.g., hot water recycling, energy-neutral wastewater treatment, hydropower production in water networks, microbial fuel cells). Another option is to save energy (e.g., low-energy membrane filtration, pumping and pressure optimization, reduction of water consumption, early leak detection). Water recycling in short loops using nature-based solutions may improve water management and save energy ( WWAP/UN-Water, 2018 ; Lafforgue and Lenouvel, 2015 ; Kavvada et al., 2016 ). OSMOSUN® solar desalination units are one example of a technology combining renewable energy and water production. Similar recommendations are included in the International Water Association Principles for Water-Wise Cities being adopted around the world ( IWA, 2016 ).

In sum, NGT participants felt that water-energy synergies, water short loops, and renewable energy emerged as prominent options to investigate resource rarefaction. Flexible solutions require time and development, as they are very context dependent ( Lafforgue et al., 2014 ). Investigative tools for structuring and testing potential water-energy option combinations (e.g., Urb’Advanced) may be useful.

Comparison to other studies

With increased activity around the SDGs, WaSH professionals have renewed efforts to examine high-priority research areas ( UN Water, 2018 ; WHO and UNICEF, 2017 ). Needs assessments are a valuable step in structuring research, policy, and practice responses. This study is one of several efforts to gather data on water and health knowledge needs, for instance via literature review ( Hutton and Chase, 2016 ), electronic survey ( Setty et al., 2018b ), review of meeting abstracts ( Kogevinas, 2017 ), and knowledge translation activities ( USAID, 2017 ). While the framing differs among agenda-setting methods and studies, these synergistic efforts contribute to capacity building to support global goals toward safe water and sanitation for all.

In connection with WHO-Europe efforts to set priorities for environmental health research, Kogevinas (2017) recommended dialogue between researchers and stakeholders rather than algorithms or semi-quantitative grading to non-prescriptively assess potential research topics against novelty, importance to people, impact on policy, and technical innovation and development. The WaSH research prioritization survey in collaboration with the Sanitation and Water for All partnership ( Setty et al., 2018b ) was structured around SDG 6 targets, with heavy representation from African partners, whereas the present effort garnered representation primarily from high-income regions. The literature review ( Hutton and Chase, 2016 ) looked retrospectively at peer-reviewed and gray literature, in contrast to the forward-looking expert elicitation used here. Both the literature review, which is subject to publication bias, and our in-person approach, requiring costly travel, likely underrepresent researchers from lowand middle-income countries.

While the results of these studies overlap in many ways, research policy and the financing of research were not considered in this study. Similarly, while hygiene and associated behavior change were not excluded topics, they did not emerge as a substantive focus during the NGT exercises. Though not explicitly discussed during the NGT sessions, the context for the study was set in an era of shifting priorities, as the SDGs set out more challenging expectations for water and health professionals, and unlike similar development initiatives in preceding decades, the SDGs explicitly apply to countries at all stages of development. The targets for SDG 6 ( UN, 2018 ) comprise:

  • Achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all
  • Achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations
  • Improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally
  • Substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity
  • Implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate
  • Protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes
  • Expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programs, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies
  • Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management

Equity represents a central component of SDG 6 and also appeared as an underlying driver of research needs in this study. Many aspects of SDG 6, such as “safe,” “affordable,” and “participation” were mentioned using similar wording under the socioeconomy of water category, which dominated the research priorities; however, subthemes addressed neither transboundary management nor capacity building. Untreated wastewater management features in both the SDG 6 targets and the sanitation category of the research priorities, although the SDG 6 focus on ending open defecation was reflected as increasing access to sanitation. The water resources and water reuse categories corresponded well to the SDG 6 targets, including remediation of polluted ecosystems and desalination, respectively. The research agenda presented here paid less heed to the specific needs of women and girls (e.g., for physical safety and menstrual hygiene management).


The NGT approach was appropriate for including all ideas (rather than just the majority), accommodating heterogeneity of experience in the group, and ensuring equal footing for underrepresented voices in research planning ( CDC, 2006 ; Tague, 2004 ). Although the results provided sufficient information for the study’s purposes and saturation was achieved via subsequent data triangulation, limitations to internal validity include adaptations of the process used to fit time constraints. Limitations of NGT include the need for conformity within a somewhat mechanical process. The group sizes (33 or 18 participants) were large by NGT standards ( Taylor et al., 1958 ). While unlikely to have restricted idea generation, this might have hampered full-group discussion and clustering of ideas. We sought to overcome this by more thoroughly reviewing the categorization afterward, using multiple reviewers. Normally, NGT includes scoring and ranking after grouping ( CDC, 2006 ), but we accomplished this afterward using simple frequencies and requested member checking remotely several months following the sessions.

While an effort was made to consider ten years of data and multiple categories of water and health professionals, the methods inherently rely on a sample of professionals, which limits external validity and generalizability. As is the case with focus groups, the viewpoints captured may not represent all members of a certain demographic. Since participants need to travel to attend the conference in person, representation skewed toward a small number of high-income countries especially in vicinity of France. Furthermore, the scientific committee and practitioners were invited, and this method of “sampling” is more likely to result in a cohesive group that shares similar viewpoints. The student participants, in contrast, can openly apply to attend, and are intentionally selected to increase diversity. Water and health topics specified on the event announcement aim to attract student expertise in the area of emerging waterborne pollutants and pathogens, epidemiology, microbiology, toxicology, analytical chemistry, risk assessment, water treatment, water hygiene, public health, and sociological aspects of risk management. Advertisement and marketing is generally limited and likely does not reach all possible candidates.


Research planning processes often stem from independent primary investigators, either in isolation or in collaboration with others, typically with a goal of achieving publication in a peer-reviewed journal. In many cases, research planning and execution is closely determined by funding availability on specific topics, for example via requests for proposals ( Setty et al., 2018b ). Mechanisms for accountability to the public, governments, and practitioners are less well established in academia, although applied, translational, and implementation research has gained traction in recent decades ( Hering, 2018 ). Setty et al. (2018b) found stakeholders outside of academia (e.g., governmental and civil society organizations) sought but perceived fewer opportunities to engage in learning and training events. Making research relevant to potential end users and decision makers recommends cross-sector communication about research priorities ( Kogevinas, 2017 ; Roux et al., 2006 ). Although not inclusive of all possible stakeholder types, this project offered one approach to eliciting practitioner and potentially other stakeholder group perspectives on research planning.

Broad, inclusive processes are recommended for research planning ( Setty et al., 2018b ), including scientists as well as other stakeholder types, with attention to underrepresented voices. Such processes are more likely to identify a mix of short- and long-term priorities as well as diverse perspectives and needs. The SDG process, for instance, provide an example of inclusive priority setting, which can be used to justify research efforts from 2016–2030 ( UN General Assembly, 2015 ). Another example comes from the US National Science Foundation’s Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education in 2018, which invited input from members of the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors, an international group of professors educating on environmental protection, science, and technology topics ( NSF, 2018 ). They sought to identify environmental research and education directions that would further advance national security and economic competitiveness. This direct solicitation took place in tandem with a public comment period over about two months.

Conscientious, structured exercises such as NGT can bolster equity, transparency, and inclusivity of research planning processes ( Viergever et al., 2010 ). This and other approaches may be adapted to fit case-specific constraints and needs, although users should document adaptations to consider how they might alter effectiveness ( Allen et al., 2017 ; Bartunek and Murninghan, 1984 ). Depending on organizational needs, periodic reflective exercises can be timed to fit into research planning cycles ( Weichselgartner and Kasperson, 2010 ). In practical terms, participation in research prioritization exercises can be time-consuming. At a macro level, doing an exercise in conjunction with an existing collaborative event created minimal additional cost and labor. At a micro level, grouping similar responses together as they came up likewise offered a time advantage.


High-priority research areas (in order of frequency) included the socioeconomy of water, water quality, water treatment, microbiology, risk assessment and management, sanitation, water resources, real-time and rapid methods, water reuse, and the water-energy nexus. Each of these themes housed a range of more detailed research subthemes and questions. Underlying drivers of water and health research included social inequity, shifting international relations, demographic trends, aging infrastructure, antimicrobial resistance, and emerging diseases. To support attainment of the SDG targets for water and sanitation, water and health professionals will need to integrate efforts across environmental and health systems, sectors, and exposures; decentralize infrastructure and monitoring capabilities; and adopt more advanced processes for safety, surveillance, and responsiveness. The study methods and findings may prove useful for planning research funding offerings, projects, practicums, and quality improvement efforts among a variety of organizational types focused on water and health issues.

  • Expert elicitation technique ranked water and health research priorities.
  • A prime concern centered on the socioeconomics of meeting water needs.
  • Team-based narrative review provided commentary on all research priorities.
  • Dialogue among scientists and practitioners is needed to progress toward SDGs.


Our gratitude extends to all participants in the 2018 International Water and Health Seminar in Cannes for their enthusiastic collaboration. We are especially indebted to the meeting coordinators for arranging the session logistics. Suez provided financial sponsorship for the meeting, and student travel was in many cases made possible by their respective sponsors and institutions. Additional financial support for research (KS) was provided by the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (grant T32ES007018), and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Royster Society of Fellows.

Declaration of interest

Authors include employees and contractors of Suez, who received remuneration for their time and travel expenses to attend work functions such as the seminar where this study took place. Senior academics on the scientific committee were similarly reimbursed for travel expenses to attend the seminar. Students accepted to the seminar received accommodations and meals for the duration of the seminar. Some participant institutions have received separate funding from Suez for specific research projects.

Workshop participants

Jamie Bartram, The Water Institute at UNC

Elke Dopp, IWW Water Center

Martin Exner, University of Bonn

Philippe Hartemann, University of Lorraine

Paul Hunter, University of East Anglia

Gertjan Medema, KWR Water Cycle Research Institute

Mark Wiesner, Duke University

Michael Wilhelm, Ruhr-University Bochum


Reynald Bonnard, Suez

Sophie Courtois, Suez

Jerome Enault, Suez

Michel Lafforgue, Suez Consulting

Xavier Litrico, Suez

Jean-François Loret, Suez

Pierre Pieronne, Suez

Olivier Schlosser, Suez

Daniel Villessot, Suez

Flavia Zraick, Suez

Claire Bertelli, University of Lausanne*

Helena Bielak, IWW Water Center

Nadratun Chowdhury, Duke University

Christina Fiedler, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna

Charlotte Christiane Hammer, University of East Anglia

Tarek Manasfi, University of Aix-Marseille*

Manon Michaut, University of Rouen

Laura Palli, University of Florence

Yoann Perrin, University of Poitiers

Nicholas Rogers, Duke University

Sydney Rudko, University of Alberta

Mohamed Shaheen, University of Alberta

Sohan Shrestha, University of Queensland

Esther Sib, University of Bonn

Vincent Tesson, French National Institute for Agricultural Research

* postdoctoral scholar

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Water science must be Open Science

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We would like to acknowledge all our colleagues and collaborators who have collectively helped stimulate many of the thoughts and reflections contained in this article. Specifically, E.L.S wishes to thank Mingxun Wang and Pieter Dorrestein (both GNPS) for providing the MAAST example to add a nice carrot to this article. S.J.S. acknowledges help by Remko Nijzink and the Swiss Data Science Center in exploring the Renku platform. E.L.S. and S.J.S. both acknowledge financial support by the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) ATTRACT programme for projects A18/BM/12341006 and A16/SR/11254288, respectively.

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Choose Your Test

Sat / act prep online guides and tips, 113 great research paper topics.

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General Education


One of the hardest parts of writing a research paper can be just finding a good topic to write about. Fortunately we've done the hard work for you and have compiled a list of 113 interesting research paper topics. They've been organized into ten categories and cover a wide range of subjects so you can easily find the best topic for you.

In addition to the list of good research topics, we've included advice on what makes a good research paper topic and how you can use your topic to start writing a great paper.

What Makes a Good Research Paper Topic?

Not all research paper topics are created equal, and you want to make sure you choose a great topic before you start writing. Below are the three most important factors to consider to make sure you choose the best research paper topics.

#1: It's Something You're Interested In

A paper is always easier to write if you're interested in the topic, and you'll be more motivated to do in-depth research and write a paper that really covers the entire subject. Even if a certain research paper topic is getting a lot of buzz right now or other people seem interested in writing about it, don't feel tempted to make it your topic unless you genuinely have some sort of interest in it as well.

#2: There's Enough Information to Write a Paper

Even if you come up with the absolute best research paper topic and you're so excited to write about it, you won't be able to produce a good paper if there isn't enough research about the topic. This can happen for very specific or specialized topics, as well as topics that are too new to have enough research done on them at the moment. Easy research paper topics will always be topics with enough information to write a full-length paper.

Trying to write a research paper on a topic that doesn't have much research on it is incredibly hard, so before you decide on a topic, do a bit of preliminary searching and make sure you'll have all the information you need to write your paper.

#3: It Fits Your Teacher's Guidelines

Don't get so carried away looking at lists of research paper topics that you forget any requirements or restrictions your teacher may have put on research topic ideas. If you're writing a research paper on a health-related topic, deciding to write about the impact of rap on the music scene probably won't be allowed, but there may be some sort of leeway. For example, if you're really interested in current events but your teacher wants you to write a research paper on a history topic, you may be able to choose a topic that fits both categories, like exploring the relationship between the US and North Korea. No matter what, always get your research paper topic approved by your teacher first before you begin writing.

113 Good Research Paper Topics

Below are 113 good research topics to help you get you started on your paper. We've organized them into ten categories to make it easier to find the type of research paper topics you're looking for.


  • Discuss the main differences in art from the Italian Renaissance and the Northern Renaissance .
  • Analyze the impact a famous artist had on the world.
  • How is sexism portrayed in different types of media (music, film, video games, etc.)? Has the amount/type of sexism changed over the years?
  • How has the music of slaves brought over from Africa shaped modern American music?
  • How has rap music evolved in the past decade?
  • How has the portrayal of minorities in the media changed?


Current Events

  • What have been the impacts of China's one child policy?
  • How have the goals of feminists changed over the decades?
  • How has the Trump presidency changed international relations?
  • Analyze the history of the relationship between the United States and North Korea.
  • What factors contributed to the current decline in the rate of unemployment?
  • What have been the impacts of states which have increased their minimum wage?
  • How do US immigration laws compare to immigration laws of other countries?
  • How have the US's immigration laws changed in the past few years/decades?
  • How has the Black Lives Matter movement affected discussions and view about racism in the US?
  • What impact has the Affordable Care Act had on healthcare in the US?
  • What factors contributed to the UK deciding to leave the EU (Brexit)?
  • What factors contributed to China becoming an economic power?
  • Discuss the history of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies  (some of which tokenize the S&P 500 Index on the blockchain) .
  • Do students in schools that eliminate grades do better in college and their careers?
  • Do students from wealthier backgrounds score higher on standardized tests?
  • Do students who receive free meals at school get higher grades compared to when they weren't receiving a free meal?
  • Do students who attend charter schools score higher on standardized tests than students in public schools?
  • Do students learn better in same-sex classrooms?
  • How does giving each student access to an iPad or laptop affect their studies?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of the Montessori Method ?
  • Do children who attend preschool do better in school later on?
  • What was the impact of the No Child Left Behind act?
  • How does the US education system compare to education systems in other countries?
  • What impact does mandatory physical education classes have on students' health?
  • Which methods are most effective at reducing bullying in schools?
  • Do homeschoolers who attend college do as well as students who attended traditional schools?
  • Does offering tenure increase or decrease quality of teaching?
  • How does college debt affect future life choices of students?
  • Should graduate students be able to form unions?


  • What are different ways to lower gun-related deaths in the US?
  • How and why have divorce rates changed over time?
  • Is affirmative action still necessary in education and/or the workplace?
  • Should physician-assisted suicide be legal?
  • How has stem cell research impacted the medical field?
  • How can human trafficking be reduced in the United States/world?
  • Should people be able to donate organs in exchange for money?
  • Which types of juvenile punishment have proven most effective at preventing future crimes?
  • Has the increase in US airport security made passengers safer?
  • Analyze the immigration policies of certain countries and how they are similar and different from one another.
  • Several states have legalized recreational marijuana. What positive and negative impacts have they experienced as a result?
  • Do tariffs increase the number of domestic jobs?
  • Which prison reforms have proven most effective?
  • Should governments be able to censor certain information on the internet?
  • Which methods/programs have been most effective at reducing teen pregnancy?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of the Keto diet?
  • How effective are different exercise regimes for losing weight and maintaining weight loss?
  • How do the healthcare plans of various countries differ from each other?
  • What are the most effective ways to treat depression ?
  • What are the pros and cons of genetically modified foods?
  • Which methods are most effective for improving memory?
  • What can be done to lower healthcare costs in the US?
  • What factors contributed to the current opioid crisis?
  • Analyze the history and impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic .
  • Are low-carbohydrate or low-fat diets more effective for weight loss?
  • How much exercise should the average adult be getting each week?
  • Which methods are most effective to get parents to vaccinate their children?
  • What are the pros and cons of clean needle programs?
  • How does stress affect the body?
  • Discuss the history of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
  • What were the causes and effects of the Salem Witch Trials?
  • Who was responsible for the Iran-Contra situation?
  • How has New Orleans and the government's response to natural disasters changed since Hurricane Katrina?
  • What events led to the fall of the Roman Empire?
  • What were the impacts of British rule in India ?
  • Was the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki necessary?
  • What were the successes and failures of the women's suffrage movement in the United States?
  • What were the causes of the Civil War?
  • How did Abraham Lincoln's assassination impact the country and reconstruction after the Civil War?
  • Which factors contributed to the colonies winning the American Revolution?
  • What caused Hitler's rise to power?
  • Discuss how a specific invention impacted history.
  • What led to Cleopatra's fall as ruler of Egypt?
  • How has Japan changed and evolved over the centuries?
  • What were the causes of the Rwandan genocide ?


  • Why did Martin Luther decide to split with the Catholic Church?
  • Analyze the history and impact of a well-known cult (Jonestown, Manson family, etc.)
  • How did the sexual abuse scandal impact how people view the Catholic Church?
  • How has the Catholic church's power changed over the past decades/centuries?
  • What are the causes behind the rise in atheism/ agnosticism in the United States?
  • What were the influences in Siddhartha's life resulted in him becoming the Buddha?
  • How has media portrayal of Islam/Muslims changed since September 11th?


  • How has the earth's climate changed in the past few decades?
  • How has the use and elimination of DDT affected bird populations in the US?
  • Analyze how the number and severity of natural disasters have increased in the past few decades.
  • Analyze deforestation rates in a certain area or globally over a period of time.
  • How have past oil spills changed regulations and cleanup methods?
  • How has the Flint water crisis changed water regulation safety?
  • What are the pros and cons of fracking?
  • What impact has the Paris Climate Agreement had so far?
  • What have NASA's biggest successes and failures been?
  • How can we improve access to clean water around the world?
  • Does ecotourism actually have a positive impact on the environment?
  • Should the US rely on nuclear energy more?
  • What can be done to save amphibian species currently at risk of extinction?
  • What impact has climate change had on coral reefs?
  • How are black holes created?
  • Are teens who spend more time on social media more likely to suffer anxiety and/or depression?
  • How will the loss of net neutrality affect internet users?
  • Analyze the history and progress of self-driving vehicles.
  • How has the use of drones changed surveillance and warfare methods?
  • Has social media made people more or less connected?
  • What progress has currently been made with artificial intelligence ?
  • Do smartphones increase or decrease workplace productivity?
  • What are the most effective ways to use technology in the classroom?
  • How is Google search affecting our intelligence?
  • When is the best age for a child to begin owning a smartphone?
  • Has frequent texting reduced teen literacy rates?


How to Write a Great Research Paper

Even great research paper topics won't give you a great research paper if you don't hone your topic before and during the writing process. Follow these three tips to turn good research paper topics into great papers.

#1: Figure Out Your Thesis Early

Before you start writing a single word of your paper, you first need to know what your thesis will be. Your thesis is a statement that explains what you intend to prove/show in your paper. Every sentence in your research paper will relate back to your thesis, so you don't want to start writing without it!

As some examples, if you're writing a research paper on if students learn better in same-sex classrooms, your thesis might be "Research has shown that elementary-age students in same-sex classrooms score higher on standardized tests and report feeling more comfortable in the classroom."

If you're writing a paper on the causes of the Civil War, your thesis might be "While the dispute between the North and South over slavery is the most well-known cause of the Civil War, other key causes include differences in the economies of the North and South, states' rights, and territorial expansion."

#2: Back Every Statement Up With Research

Remember, this is a research paper you're writing, so you'll need to use lots of research to make your points. Every statement you give must be backed up with research, properly cited the way your teacher requested. You're allowed to include opinions of your own, but they must also be supported by the research you give.

#3: Do Your Research Before You Begin Writing

You don't want to start writing your research paper and then learn that there isn't enough research to back up the points you're making, or, even worse, that the research contradicts the points you're trying to make!

Get most of your research on your good research topics done before you begin writing. Then use the research you've collected to create a rough outline of what your paper will cover and the key points you're going to make. This will help keep your paper clear and organized, and it'll ensure you have enough research to produce a strong paper.

What's Next?

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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.

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water being poured into a glass

There are many options for what to drink , but water is the best choice for most people who have access to safe drinking water. It is calorie-free and as easy to find as the nearest tap.

Water helps to restore fluids lost through metabolism, breathing, sweating, and the removal of waste. It helps to keep you from overheating, lubricates the joints and tissues, maintains healthy skin, and is necessary for proper digestion. It’s the perfect zero-calorie beverage for quenching thirst and rehydrating your body.

How Much Water Do I Need?

Water is an essential nutrient at every age, so optimal hydration is a key component for good health. Water accounts for about 60% of an adult’s body weight. We drink fluids when we feel thirst, the major signal alerting us when our body runs low on water. We also customarily drink beverages with meals to help with digestion. But sometimes we drink not based on these factors but on how much we think we should be drinking. One of the most familiar sayings is to aim for “8 glasses a day,” but this may not be appropriate for every person.

General recommendations

  • The National Academy of Medicine suggests an adequate intake of daily fluids of about 13 cups and 9 cups for healthy men and women, respectively, with 1 cup equaling 8 ounces. [1] Higher amounts may be needed for those who are physically active or exposed to very warm climates. Lower amounts may be needed for those with smaller body sizes. It’s important to note that this amount is not a daily target, but a general guide. In the average person, drinking less will not necessarily compromise one’s health as each person’s exact fluid needs vary, even day-to-day.
  • Fever, exercise, exposure to extreme temperature climates (very hot or cold), and excessive loss of body fluids (such as with vomiting or diarrhea) will increase fluid needs.
  • The amount and color of urine can provide a rough estimate of adequate hydration. Generally the color of urine darkens the more concentrated it is (meaning that it contains less water). However, foods, medications, and vitamin supplements can also change urine color. [1] Smaller volumes of urine may indicate dehydration, especially if also darker in color.
  • Alcohol can suppress anti-diuretic hormone, a fluid-regulating hormone that signals the kidneys to reduce urination and reabsorb water back into the body. Without it, the body flushes out water more easily. Enjoying more than a couple of drinks within a short time can increase the risk of dehydration, especially if taken on an empty stomach. To prevent this, take alcohol with food and sips of water.
  • Although caffeine has long been thought to have a diuretic effect, potentially leading to dehydration, research does not fully support this. The data suggest that more than 180 mg of caffeine daily (about two cups of brewed coffee) may increase urination in the short-term in some people, but will not necessarily lead to dehydration. Therefore, caffeinated beverages including coffee and tea can contribute to total daily water intake. [1]

Keep in mind that about 20% of our total water intake comes not from beverages but from water-rich foods like lettuce, leafy greens, cucumbers, bell peppers, summer squash, celery, berries, and melons.

Aside from including water-rich foods, the following chart is a guide for daily water intake based on age group from the National Academy of Medicine:

Preventing Dehydration: Is Thirst Enough?

glass of ice water on black background

As we age, however, the body’s regulation of fluid intake and thirst decline. Research has shown that both of these factors are impaired in the elderly. A Cochrane review found that commonly used indicators of dehydration in older adults (e.g., urine color and volume, feeling thirsty) are not effective and should not be solely used. [3] Certain conditions that impair mental ability and cognition, such as a stroke or dementia, can also impair thirst. People may also voluntarily limit drinking due to incontinence or difficulty getting to a bathroom. In addition to these situations, research has found that athletes, people who are ill, and infants may not have an adequate sense of thirst to replete their fluid needs. [2] Even mild dehydration may produce negative symptoms, so people who cannot rely on thirst or other usual measures may wish to use other strategies. For example, aim to fill a 20-ounce water bottle four times daily and sip throughout the day, or drink a large glass of water with each meal and snack.

Symptoms of dehydration that may occur with as little as a 2% water deficit:

  • Confusion or short-term memory loss
  • Mood changes like increased irritability or depression

Dehydration can increase the risk of certain medical conditions:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Kidney stones
  • Constipation  

Like most trends of the moment, alkaline water has become popular through celebrity backing with claims ranging from weight loss to curing cancer. The theory behind alkaline water is the same as that touting the benefits of eating alkaline foods, which purportedly counterbalances the health detriments caused by eating acid-producing foods like meat, sugar, and some grains.

From a scale of 0-14, a higher pH number is alkaline; a lower pH is acidic. The body tightly regulates blood pH levels to about 7.4 because veering away from this number to either extreme can cause negative side effects and even be life-threatening. However, diet alone cannot cause these extremes; they most commonly occur with conditions like uncontrolled diabetes, kidney disease, chronic lung disease, or alcohol abuse.

Alkaline water has a higher pH of about 8-9 than tap water of about 7, due to a higher mineral or salt content. Some water sources can be naturally alkaline if the water picks up minerals as it passes over rocks. However, most commercial brands of alkaline water have been manufactured using an ionizer that reportedly separates out the alkaline components and filters out the acid components, raising the pH. Some people add an alkaline substance like baking soda to regular water.

Scientific evidence is not conclusive on the acid-alkaline theory, also called the acid-ash theory, stating that eating a high amount of certain foods can slightly lower the pH of blood especially in the absence of eating foods supporting a higher alkaline blood pH like fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Controlled clinical trials have not shown that diet alone can significantly change the blood pH of healthy people. Moreover, a direct connection of blood pH in the low-normal range and chronic disease in humans has not been established.

BOTTOM LINE: If the idea of alkaline water encourages you to drink more, then go for it! But it’s likely that drinking plain regular water will provide similar health benefits from simply being well-hydrated—improved energy, mood, and digestive health

Is It Possible To Drink Too Much Water?

There is no Tolerable Upper Intake Level for water because the body can usually excrete extra water through urine or sweat. However, a condition called water toxicity is possible in rare cases, in which a large amount of fluids is taken in a short amount of time, which is faster than the kidney’s ability to excrete it. This leads to a dangerous condition called hyponatremia in which blood levels of sodium fall too low as too much water is taken. The excess total body water dilutes blood sodium levels, which can cause symptoms like confusion, nausea, seizures, and muscle spasms. Hyponatremia is usually only seen in ill people whose kidneys are not functioning properly or under conditions of extreme heat stress or prolonged strenuous exercise where the body cannot excrete the extra water. Very physically active people such as triathletes and marathon runners are at risk for this condition as they tend to drink large amounts of water, while simultaneously losing sodium through their sweat. Women and children are also more susceptible to hyponatremia because of their smaller body size.

Fun Flavors For Water  

Pitcher of water filled with orange slices and mint leaves

Infused water

Instead of purchasing expensive flavored waters in the grocery store, you can easily make your own at home. Try adding any of the following to a cold glass or pitcher of water:

  • Sliced citrus fruits or zest (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit)
  • Crushed fresh mint
  • Peeled, sliced fresh ginger or sliced cucumber
  • Crushed berries

Sparkling water with a splash of juice

Sparkling juices may have as many calories as sugary soda. Instead, make your own sparkling juice at home with 12 ounces of sparkling water and just an ounce or two of juice. For additional flavor, add sliced citrus or fresh herbs like mint.

TIP: To reduce waste, reconsider relying on single-use plastic water bottles and purchase a colorful 20-32 ounce refillable water thermos that is easy to wash and tote with you during the day. 

Water being poured into a glass

Are seltzers and other fizzy waters safe and healthy to drink?

BOTTOM LINE: Carbonated waters, if unsweetened, are safe to drink and a good beverage choice. They are not associated with health problems that are linked with sweetened, carbonated beverages like soda.

  • Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health is a member of the Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network’s (NOPREN) Drinking Water Working Group. A collaborative network of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the NOPREN Drinking Water Working Group focuses on policies and economic issues regarding free and safe drinking water access in various settings by conducting research and evaluation to help identify, develop and implement drinking-water-related policies, programs, and practices. Visit the network’s website to access recent water research and evidence-based resources.
  • The Harvard Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity provides tools and resources for making clean, cold, free water more accessible in environments like schools and afterschool programs, as well as tips for making water more tasty and fun for kids.
  • The National Academy of Sciences. Dietary References Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate. https://www.nap.edu/read/10925/chapter/6#102 Accessed 8/5/2019.
  • Millard-Stafford M, Wendland DM, O’Dea NK, Norman TL. Thirst and hydration status in everyday life. Nutr Rev . 2012 Nov;70 Suppl 2:S147-51.
  • Hooper L, Abdelhamid A, Attreed NJ, Campbell WW, Channell AM, et al. Clinical symptoms, signs and tests for identification of impending and current water-loss dehydration in older people. Cochrane Database Syst Rev . 2015 Apr 30;(4):CD009647.

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ENGL 101: Water Theme

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What makes a good research question?

  • Narrow Focus
  • Answer is not obvious
  • You can actually research it (there is evidence out there for you to find)
  • Question is clear and has a single focus

The best way to Focus Your Topic is to ask questions about it. Consider the five W's when trying to figure out what you want to research:

Who? Limit your topic to a specific person or group.

What? Limit your topic to a particular aspect of the topic or discipline.

Where? Limit your topic to a particular place or region.

When? Limit your topic to a particular period of time.

Why? Ask why the topic is important.

Remember you can limit your topic in more than one way. For example limit it to a "who" and a "what" or a "when" and a "where".

Mix and match the five Ws until you've created a Good Research Question .

Use these Library Resources to find background information on your topic. This will help you create and refine your research question.

  • CQ Researcher- Environment and Natural Resources Reports from the research arm of Congress. Good overviews on many environmental issues including water related issues.

Thumbnail image of database logo.

Books can be Your Best Friend in Information Gathering!

Key Reference Books can be found on the Key Reference Shelf in the Library.

These volumes provide subject overviews and opposing viewpoints on certain aspects of dozens of controversial issues. Great place to see what kinds of questions are being discussed about a topic and how those questions are being answered.

Also make sure to search the  Library catalog  for relevant print books and  E book Central  for electronic books.

These Websites are Also Good Information Gathering Resources.

  • Wikipedia If you want to use Wikipedia, make sure to watch the "Using Wikipedia for Academic Research" video . Remember never cite a Wikipedia article , only use for background info and to find better sources.
  • Public Agenda A nonprofit, nonpartisan research and citizen education resource, founded by social scientist, Daniel Yankelovich and former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance. Includes statistics, results of polls, policy proposals, and much more.
  • Pro-Con.org Award winning nonpartisan site on controversial issues.
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102 Water Pollution Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

Water pollution essays are an excellent way to demonstrate your awareness of the topic and your position on the solutions to the issue. To help you ease the writing process, we prepared some tips, essay topics, and research questions about water pollution.

🌎 Air and Water pollution: Essay Writing Tips

🏆 best water pollution essay topics & examples, 📌 remarkable air and water pollution research topics, 👍 good research topics about water pollution, ❓ research questions about water pollution.

Water’s ready availability in many locations makes it an easy choice for a variety of purposes, from cleaning to manufacturing to nuclear reactor cooling. However, many companies will then dump water, now mixed with waste, back into rivers or lakes without adequate cleaning, leading to significant environmental pollution.

However, there are other types of harm, such as noise pollution, which are less obvious but also dangerous to sea life. It is critical that you understand what you should and should not do during your writing process.

The stance that big manufacturing industries are the sole culprits of the damage done to the world’s rivers and oceans is a popular one. However, do not neglect the effects of other water pollution essay topics such as microorganisms.

Microbes can spread dangerous illnesses, making them a danger for both water inhabitants and the people who then use that water. Furthermore, they can eat up oxygen if left unchecked, starving fish and other water organisms and eventually making them die out.

Such situations usually result from agricultural practices, which can lead to powerful nutrients entering the water and enabling algae and other microorganisms to grow excessively. An overly lively environment can be as harmful as one where everything is threatened.

With that said, industrial manufacturers deserve much of the attention and blame they receive from various communities. Construction of dedicated waste-cleaning facilities is usually possible, but companies avoid doing so because the process will increase their costs.

You should advocate for green practices, but be mindful of the potential impact of a significant price increase on the global economy. Also, be sure to mention more exotic pollution variations in your types of water pollution essay.

Provide examples of noise pollution or suspended matter pollution to expand on the topic of the complexity of the harm humanity causes to the ecosphere.

You should show your understanding that there are many causes, and we should work on addressing all of them, a notion you should repeat in your water pollution essay conclusions.

However, you should try to avoid being sidetracked too much and focus on the titles of pollution and its immediate causes.

If you stretch far enough, you may connect the matter to topics such as the status of a woman in Islam. However, doing so contributes little to nothing to your point and deviates from the topic of ecology into social and religious studies.

Leave the search for connections to dedicated researchers and concentrate on discussing the major causes that are known nowadays. By doing this, you will be able to create an excellent and powerful work that will demonstrate your understanding of the topic.

Here are some tips for your writing:

  • Be sure to discuss the different types of pollution that is caused by the same source separately. Surface and groundwater pollution are different in their effects and deserve separate discussions.
  • Focus on the issues and not on solutions, as an essay does not provide enough space to discuss the latter in detail.
  • Be sure to discuss the effects of pollution on people and other land inhabitants as well as on water creatures.

Check IvyPanda to get more water pollution essay titles, paper ideas, and other useful samples!

  • Air and Water Pollution in the Modern World The high number of vehicles in the city has greatly promoted air pollution in the area. Poor sewerage system, high pollution from industries and automobiles are among the major causes of air and water pollutions […]
  • Water Pollution: Causes, Effects and Possible Solutions This is why clean water is required in all the places to make sure the people and all the living creatures in the planet live a good and healthy life.
  • Water Pollution: Causes, Effects, and Prevention Farmers should be encouraged to embrace this kind of farming which ensures that the manure used is biodegradable and do not end up accumulating in the water bodies once they are washed off by floods.
  • Water Pollution in the Philippines: Metropolitan Manila Area In this brief economic analysis of water pollution in Metro Manila, it is proposed to look at the industrial use of waters and the household use to understand the impact that the population growth and […]
  • Coca-Cola India and Water Pollution Issues The first difficulty that the representatives of the Coca-Cola Company happened to face due to their campaign in the territory of India was caused by the concerns of the local government.
  • Cashion Water Quality: Spatial Distribution of Water Pollution Incidents This essay discusses the quality of water as per the report of 2021 obtained from the municipality, the quality issue and the source of pollution, and how the pollution impacts human health and the environment […]
  • Water Pollution: OIL Spills Aspects The effects of the oil spill on a species of ducks called the Harlequin ducks were formulated and the author attempted to trace out the immediate and residual effects of the oil on the birds.
  • Importance of Mercury Water Pollution Problem Solutions The severity of the mercury contamination consequences depends on the age of the person exposed to the contamination, the way of contamination, the health condition, and many other factors.
  • Water Pollution as a Crime Against the Environment In particular, water pollution is a widespread crime against the environment, even though it is a severe felony that can result in harm to many people and vast territories.
  • Newark Water Crisis: Water Pollution Problem The main problem was rooted in the fact that lead levels in the drinking water were highly elevated, which is dangerous and detrimental to the population’s health.
  • Water Pollution in a Community: Mitigation Plan Though for the fact that planet earth is abundant with water and almost two-thirds of the planet is made up of water still it is viewed that in future years, a shortage of water may […]
  • Food Distribution and Water Pollution Therefore, food distribution is one of the central reasons for water pollution. According to Greenpeace, one of the ways to improve the ecology of the planet is by creating healthy food markets.
  • Water Pollution and Associated Health Risks The results of plenty of studies indicate the existence of the relation between the contamination of water by hazardous chemicals and the development of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, cancer, asthma, allergies, as well as reproductive […]
  • Lake Erie Water Pollution There are worries among the members of the community that the lake could be facing another episode of high toxicity, and they have called for the authorities to investigate the main causes of the pollution […]
  • Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan All players need to be trained in significant areas of business so as they can handle them with care and beware of the potential they have in causing damage.
  • Water Pollution in the US: Causes and Control Although water pollution can hardly be ceased entirely, the current rates of water pollution can be reduced by resorting to the sustainable principle of water use in both the industrial area and the realm of […]
  • Water Pollution and Management in the UAE The groundwater in UAE meets the needs of 51% of users in terms of quantity mainly for irrigation. Surface water is the source of groundwater and plays a major role in groundwater renewal.
  • Water Pollution and Its Challenges Water pollution refers to a situation where impurities find way into water bodies such as rivers, lakes, and ground water. This is a form of pollution where impurities enter water bodies through distinct sources such […]
  • Water Pollution Sources, Effects and Control Unfortunately, not all the users of water are responsible to ensure that proper disposal or treatment of the used water is done before the water is returned to the water bodies.
  • Water in Crisis: Public Health Concerns in Africa In the 21st century, the world faces a crisis of contaminated water, which is the result of industrialization and is a major problem in developing countries.
  • Air and Water Pollution Thus, it is classified as a primary pollutant because it is the most common pollutants in the environment. In the environment, the impact of carbon monoxide is felt overtime, since it leads to respiratory problems.
  • Causes of Water Pollution and the Present Environmental Solution Prolonged pollution of water has even caused some plants to grow in the water, which pose danger to the living entities that have their inhabitants in the water.
  • Water Pollution & Diseases (Undeveloped Nations) Restriction on movement and access to the affected area affects trade and the loss of human life and deteriorated health is a major blow on the economy and on the quality of human life.
  • Water and Water Pollution in Point of Economics’ View This research tries to explain the importance of water especially in an economist’s perspective by explaining the uses of water in various fields, pollution of water and the agents of pollution.
  • Environmental Justice Issues Affecting African Americans: Water Pollution Water pollution in the 1960s occurred due to poor sewage systems in the urban and rural areas. Unlike in the 1960s, there are reduced cases of water pollution today.
  • Water Pollution and Wind Energy Chemical pollution of water is one of the leading causes of death of aquatic life. It is thus evident that chemical pollution of water not only has negative effects on health, but it also substantially […]
  • Air and Water Pollution in Los Angeles One of the major problems facing major cities and towns in the world is pollution; wastes from firms and households are the major causes of pollution.
  • Water Pollution Causes and Climate Impacts The biggest percentage of sewage waste consists of water, treating the wastes for recycling would help in maintaining a constant supply of water.
  • Water Pollution Origins and Ways of Resolving The evidence provided by environmental agencies indicates that industrial agriculture is one of the factors that significantly contribute to the deterioration of water quality.
  • Mud Lick Creek Project – Fresh Water Pollution This potential source of pollutants poses significant risks to the quality of water at the creek in terms altering the temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, and the turbidity of the water.
  • Water Pollution in the Jamaican Society
  • Water Pollution and Abstraction and Economic Instruments
  • Water Pollution and Individual Effects of Water Pollution
  • Understanding What Causes Water Pollution
  • An Analysis of Water Pollution as a Global Plague That Affects the People, Animals and Plants
  • Water Pollution Through Urban and Rural Land Use and Freshwater Allocation in New Zealand
  • Water Pollution: Globalization, One of the Causes and Part of the Solution
  • Voluntary Incentives for Reducing Agricultural Nonpoint Source Water Pollution
  • The Impact of Water Pollution on Public Health in Flint, Michigan
  • Understanding Water Pollution and Its Causes
  • The Promises and Pitfalls of Devolution: Water Pollution Policies in the American States
  • We Must Fight Against Water Pollution
  • Transaction Costs and Agricultural Nonpoint-Source Water Pollution Control Policies
  • Water Pollution and Drinking Water Quality
  • Water Pollution: An Insight into the Greatest Environmental Risk
  • US Water Pollution Regulation over the Past Half Century: Burning Waters to Crystal Springs
  • Environmental Impact and Health Risks of Water Pollution to a Child
  • Water Pollution Environment Effects Chemicals
  • The Negative Effects of Water Pollution on Fish Numbers in America
  • The Problem of Oil Spills and Water Pollution in Alaska
  • Water Pollution in the United State: The Causes and Effects
  • California Water Pollution Act Clean Laws
  • The Need to Immediately Stop Water Pollution in the United States
  • Water Pollution, Causes, Effects and Prevention
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  • Water Pollution and the Biggest Environmental Issues Today
  • Fresh Water Pollution Assignment
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  • What Are the Leading Factors of Water Pollution Around the World?
  • Why Is Water Pollution an Important Issue Environmental Sciences?
  • What Are the Factors That Causes Water Pollution and Its Effects on the World Today?
  • What Are There Inorganic Chemicals Cause Water Pollution?
  • How Does Drinking Water Pollution Impact the World Environmental Sciences?
  • Is There a Connection Between Drinking Water Quality and Water Pollution?
  • How to Deal with the Big Problem of Deforestation and Water Pollution in Brazil and the Colombian Amazon?
  • Why Is China’s Water Pollution Challenge?
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  • How to Reduce Air and Water Pollution?
  • What Is the Harmonizing Model with Transfer Tax on Water Pollution Across Regional Boundaries in China’s Lake Basin?
  • Are the Causes and Effects of Water Pollution Determined in Lake Huron?
  • Can Water Pollution Policy Be Efficient?
  • What Are the Kinds of Water Pollution Environmental Sciences?
  • What Causes Water Pollution and Its Effects?
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International Water Management Institute (IWMI)

Award winning paper questions link between water scarcity and poverty

A far reaching overview of water, agriculture and poverty has won a Paper of the Year award from the International Water Resources Association. The authors, including IWMI scientist Mark Giordano, looked at river basin level case studies from three continents and concluded that perceptions of water scarcity do not necessarily reflect its actual availability, or link directly to levels of poverty.

“People with less available water are not necessarily poorer than those with abundant water,” says Giordano. “In fact, some of the poorest people live in water-rich areas such as Bangladesh, where the poor suffer disproportionately from flooding. Some of the world’s richest people live in water-scarce regions such as Israel.”

The open-access paper, “ Water, food and livelihoods in river basins “,  explores not just the link between water and poverty, but also at the three way relationship between water, poverty and agriculture. Described as “an excellent summary of the state-of-art for basin management” by one evaluator, the paper’s authors caution against calls for quantifiable measures of this complex problem which can risk poor science and can be used to serve political ends.

The authors accept that, in many situations, agricultural systems can adapt to changing demands but local institutions and norms strongly influence both how productive water can be and how it can be accessed by different groups of people. It is likely, however, that the poorest will suffer in situations where the availability of water or food is reduced if safeguards are not explicitly put in place.

“Understanding how and where this happens is essential if we are to work towards poverty alleviation and increase food and environmental security,” says Simon Cook of the CGIAR’s Challenge Program on water and food and the paper’s lead author. “In order to fully realize potential water productivity we need to take into account the complex links between different components of agricultural systems. Factors such as access to markets or finance and how water and land resources are shared can have a major influence. Unfortunately, these factors are difficult to measure but need to be considered if we want a balanced picture of agricultural development.”

The paper won one of three IWRA annual Best Paper Awards, presented at the triennial World Water Congress XIV held in September 2011 at Porto de Galinhas, Brazil.  The awardees are chosen by a panel of leading water resources scholars selected by the editors of the journal  Water International . The criteria for evaluation are relevance, rigor and impact.

Read the paper: Water, food and livelihoods in river basins . Water International, 34(1):13-29.

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167 Water Essay Topics & Research Questions about Water

Looking for a research title about water shortage, conservation, pollution, or treatment? Whatever your area of interest is, you will definitely find a good writing idea in this list of titles for water essays! Topics we’ve collected here are fresh, unique, and current. Go ahead and read them below!

🏆 Best Essay Topics on Water

💡 simple water essay titles, 👍 good water research topics & essay examples, 📌 easy water essay topics, 🎓 most interesting water topics for project, ❓ research questions about water.

  • Water Pollution Causes, Effects and Solutions
  • Effects of Water Pollution on Human Health
  • The Water Cycle and the Impact of Human Activity on It
  • Don’t Ship Air and Don’t Ship Water Strategies
  • Water Quality and Contamination Experiment Report
  • Water and Soil Management
  • Activation Energy for Viscous Flow of Water, Acetone, Toluene, and o-Xylene
  • Water and Its Properties Water is the most abundant liquid on the universe comprising over 70% of earth’s composition. It exists in three forms namely liquid, solid, and gaseous states.
  • The Importance of Water for Body Water is important for all the structural elements of our body and their efficient functioning. A person is not able to feel healthy if he does not consume water.
  • The Environmental Impact of Bottled Water This paper examines the real situational effects on production of the bottled water to environmental degradation.
  • FIJI Water Company’s Success The business owners of FIJI Water embarked on a very active marketing campaign aimed at the promotion of the water, as well as the establishment and maintenance of FIJI Water’s brand.
  • Water Scarcity as Effect of Climate Change Climate change is the cause of variability in the water cycle, which also reduces the predictability of water availability, demand, and quality, aggravating water scarcity.
  • Impact of Food Waste and Water Use on Earth The paper explores how food waste and water use affect the food system and how agriculture affects the environment.
  • Fiji Water Quality: Biology Lab Experiment Since Fiji water is among the popular brands in the US, it is essential to evaluate whether it is clean, that is, safe for human consumption.
  • Bottled Water Impacts on Environment As the use of bottled water continue to rise steadily around the world, many critics have focused on its impacts on the environment, economy and other social implications related to the use.
  • Multidisciplinary Approach to Water Pollution This paper shows how the multidisciplinary approach addresses water pollution as a public health issue. It is important to understand what the model entails.
  • Water Recycling: Why Is It Important? Different countries face varying challenges in as far as provision of clean water to its population is concerned depending with its economic development level and geographic location.
  • New Evian Water Product and Customers Analysis As the new Evian water product is a more ecological option, customers concerned about the environment could also represent the client base of the product.
  • Water: An Often Overlooked Essential Element in Our Environment The freshwater required for growing food and livestock is also in great demand by the large numbers of inhabitants in the world’s cities and towns.
  • Water Accessibility and Quality The following case study explores the effect of negligence towards water stewardship and provides recommendations on the roles of stakeholders in the process.
  • Substances Influence on Water The objective of the experiment will be to find if the freezing rate of water changes when different substances are added.
  • Land Usage and Water Quality in Saudi Arabia The effect of land use in Saudi Arabian water quality has intensified the region’s water crisis, causing economic, ecological, and social challenges.
  • Fiji Water Case Study Analysis Brandon Miller aims to establish a business that is the distribution of Fiji water for Monroe and Wayne market areas.
  • Water Management in Sustainable Engineering The current essay demonstrates the significance of sustainable engineering on the example of wastewater treatment and consequent water reuse.
  • Bottled Water Impact on Environment This paper seeks to amplify the need for regulation of the used water bottles. It is quite obvious that water bottles are the highest in a number of all bottles thrown away after use.
  • Water Intake and Output: Mechanisms of Regulation For healthy function, the human body requires water balance as one of the key mechanisms, where the average daily water intake and output are relatively equal.
  • Water Quality Improvement for Global Health This proposal determines the necessity of water quality from the perspective of global health. The funding will be provided by the government and non-governmental organizations.
  • “Erin Brockovich” Film and 2014 Flint Water Crisis This paper analyzes the movie “Erin Brockovich” and compares it with the current situation in Flint, which started in April 2014.
  • Studying the Venturi Effect Through Water Flow Calculation The Venturi effect is of particular importance in fluid dynamics, characterizing the pressure drop of a fluid as it flows through narrow spaces.
  • Garbage Pollution’s Impact on Air, Water and Land Garbage pollutes the planet, and to stop this adverse effect, the authorities’ involvement is needed. One solution lies in the plane of economics and politics.
  • Food and Water Security Management The purpose of this article is to evaluate the current methodologies for addressing food and water security issues and propose sustainable solutions based on scholarly evidence.
  • Bottled Water: Environmental and Cultural Impact The consumption of bottled water has an impact on society. Appropriate strategies must be implemented to ensure that the hazards associated with bottled water are reduced.
  • “Bling H2O” Bottled Water in the Australian Market Bling H2O water is the world’s most expensive bottled water. The brand’s creator targeted to sell it to the celebrities who highly esteem their bottled water.
  • The Problem of Water Scarcity The paper states that although the problem of scarcity of water is severe, it is crucial to take measures to solve it since they can improve the situation.
  • Environment: There’s Something in the Water Environmental racism hurts the natural image of landscapes and negatively affects the atmosphere and reduces the quality and duration of life for minorities.
  • How Access to Clean Water Influences the Problem of Poverty Since people in some developing countries have insufficient water supply even now, they suffer from starvation, lack of hygiene, and water-associated diseases.
  • Basic Functions of Minerals and Water in the Body This paper discusses the functions and sources of minerals, the function of water in the body, and the general effect of dehydration on the body.
  • Glacéau Company: Vitamin Water Ethics The business practice of this paper is the production and sale of vitamin water by Glacéau in which the company states that the water being sold has been “enriched” with vitamins.
  • Solutions for Food and Water Security Issue With many nations encountering food and water security problems, the consequences of such events have become global, giving rise to multiple outcomes this insecurity.
  • Cooling Water System Overview Water towers can reduce temperatures more than any other devices using air only to reject heat hence are more cost-effective.
  • Changes in the Global Water Cycle Changes in the climate brought about by global warming have a much bigger likelihood of impacting negatively on the global hydrological cycle.
  • Water Treatments and Maximum Plant Height The first research question was how different water treatments affect maximum plant height. The experiment involved 12 plants – 6 plants for each type of water.
  • Water Buffalo Days: Growing Up in Vietnam by Nhuong The book Water Buffalo Days: Growing Up in Vietnam by Nhuong tells the story of a young boy in a central village in Vietnam. The story presents unique characteristics of Vietnam society and culture.
  • All About Water: Problems and Solutions In addition to explaining water benefits, the paper has also shown that many people globally struggle with water shortages or exposure to contaminated water.
  • Biogeochemical Cycles: Carbon, Nitrogen, and Water The most common biogeochemical cycles are carbon, nitrogen, and water cycles. The purpose of this paper was to summarize these three cycles.
  • The Issue of Food and Water Security The global issue for the analysis is food and water security. This is a topical problem nowadays, especially in light of climate change and population growth.
  • Food and Water Security as Globalization Issues Globalization has several implications for the business environment, among which are the expanded access to resources, and the interdependence of international companies.
  • Combating Arsenic Contamination in Water The well known fact is that water is the most valuable natural resource that exists and without which survival of life is impossible.
  • Pressurized Water Reactors: An Analysis The paper describes the operations of a Pressurised Water Reactors (PWR) plant in-depth, discusses the functions of PWR plants, their advantages and disadvantages.
  • Baxter Water Treatment Plants and Public Health The Baxter Water Treatment Plant is the largest water treatment facility in Philadelphia, supplying about 60 percent of the city’s drinking water.
  • Relocation of Solar Power System to Easy Life Water Ventures The paper states that having an effective power source will help the organization operate smoothly and sustainably and increase its reputation.
  • Resolutions to Fight Water Scarcity The World Health Organization outlines water scarcity as a global crisis affecting more than 2.8 billion people.
  • Lake Mattoon: Recreational Site and Water Reservoir Lake Mattoon remains one of Coles county’s best recreation sites and major water reservoirs; it is a big, man-made lake with lush green shores and big fish populations.
  • Water Pollution Effects on Human Health The paper describes the effects of water pollution on human health from the perspective of existing findings on this topic and the assessment of information.
  • Is Bottled Water Dangerous for People and the Environment? The purpose of this paper is to discuss alternative perspectives on bottled water and whether it is dangerous for people and the planet.
  • Water Resources in Australia: Usage and Management Australia is one of the driest continents in the world. Various governmental and non-governmental institutions have teamed up to face the challenges facing people as far as water is concerned.
  • Virtual Water Savings and Trade in Agriculture The idea of virtual water was initially created as a method for assessing how water-rare nations could offer food, clothing, and other water-intensive products to their residents.
  • Water in the Atmosphere The relative humidity of air can be changed by changing either the temperature of the thermodynamic system in question or the pressure in the system under consideration.
  • Water Scarcity Issue and Environment The paper answers the question why to be worried about running out of drinking water even though the earth’s surface is mostly made of water.
  • Effects of Climate Variability on Water Resources, Food Security, and Human Health Evaluating the effects of climate variability on water, food, and health will help identify the areas for improvement and offer solutions to current environmental challenges.
  • Water Scarcity Due to Climate Change This paper focuses on the adverse impact that water scarcity has brought today with the view that water is the most valuable element in running critical processes.
  • The Problem of Environmental Pollution: Fresh Water One of the more important concerns that are fast becoming a major threat is pollution and no form of pollution seemed to be bigger than that of freshwater pollution.
  • The Problem of Environmental Water Pollution This paper discusses a public health concern by explaining the causes of water pollution, how it affects human communities, and the possible strategies.
  • Study of Local Water Resources Quality This laboratory report aims to summarize the results obtained during the study oxygen consumption, BOD, and detecting dissolved suspended solids in Hong Kong water.
  • Bottle Water Industry in Current Economic UK Climate The research question is whether bottled water is a necessity or a luxury with regard to the current economic climate in the United Kingdom.
  • Protecting the Current and Future Water Supply for Rio de Janiero In the current rate of use, as well as the consensus reached by the governing officials in Rio de Janeiro, there will be enough potable water until 2025.
  • The Global Water Crisis: Issues and Solutions The water crisis has now been associated with the reduction in food quantity besides the scarcity of safe drinking water.
  • Bottled Water Status in the UK With the current economic climate in the UK, the issue of whether bottled water has become a luxury or a necessity.
  • Water Sector Privatisation in Saudi Arabia The paper explores the decision by the Ministry of Water and Electricity in Saudi Arabia to form the National Water Company to facilitate the privatization process and oversee the regional operations.
  • Water Management and Ecology Issues The paper studies water management, its various implications and explains why this area is important on examples of environmental issues.
  • Water Pollution This essay seeks to examine the concept of water pollution, its causes, effects and solutions to water pollution.
  • Human Energy Consumption and Water Power Human energy use is significantly low compared to natural energy flow. Waterpower is not significant in energy flow because it is renewable energy.
  • Agriculture, Water, and Food Security in Tanzania This paper evaluates the strategies applicable to the development and further maintenance of agriculture, water, and food security in Tanzania.
  • Aspects of Global Pollution of Water Global pollution of water resources has devasting effects on the environment that include the destruction of the ocean ecosystem and biodiversity.
  • Water Pollution in the Florida State The researchers claimed that plastic pollution was caused by the tourists and citizens who live along the coastline and dumping from the industries.
  • High-Quality Water Supply in the United States The American community has become more conscious about their health and general physical condition. Consequently, a high-quality water supply stays a priority in many households.
  • Assessment: Dubai Electricity and Water Authority As a key component of Dubai’s economy, DEWA is critical in assisting the Emirate’s growth and transition to a zero-economy economy.
  • Hyponatremia: How Much Water Do You Actually Need? Some schools, like Mississippi State, do hydration tests before each practice to ensure their players are adequately hydrated.
  • Analyzing the Use of Water in Danticat, Roumain, and Marshall The use of water in the three novels Roumain’s “Masters of the Dew,” Danticat’s “Krik? Krak!” and Paul’s “Praise Song for the Widow” has a symbolic meaning.
  • Water Pollution and How to Address It A person must protect nature – in particular water resources. After all, the possibilities of water resources are not unlimited and sooner or later, they may end.
  • The Water Shortage Supply in Las Vegas The water shortage supply in Las Vegas is a major problem due to the city’s reliance on Lake Mead and Colorado Rivers, which are drying up due to droughts.
  • Water Pollution: Effects and Treatment Pollution of water bodies is a serious hazard to humans and the aquatic ecology, and population growth is hastening climate change.
  • Examining Solutions for Mitigating the Food and Water Security Issue Hunger, malnutrition, and decreased resource distribution manifest in communities having issues with food and water security, which decreases the well-being of individuals.
  • Impact of Water Pollution: Water Challenges of an Urbanizing World Water is a source of life on Earth, and it is one of the very first needs of living beings. It is a vital resource for the development of the economic and social sectors.
  • Evaluation of Articles on Food and Water Security The two resources chosen for this discussion pertain to food and water security solutions. The scholarly source is visually distinct from the popular source due to its structure.
  • The Clean Water Network Support Statement Fresh water has become one of the most valuable resources in the world, around which regional or even global wars may occur in the future.
  • Global Societal Issue: Food and Water Security According to research, food and water security is a pertinent global problem in the current decade, with access to food and water becoming scarce in certain world regions.
  • Climate Change and Accessibility to Safe Water The paper discusses climate change’s effect on water accessibility, providing graphs on water scarcity and freshwater use and resources.
  • The High Heat Capacity of Water The heat capacity of water greatly affects the planet’s climate. At high temperatures, water absorbs heat, and when it gets colder, it gives it away.
  • Exploring the Agenda for Fresh Water Supply in Remote Regions The fundamental thesis of this entire paper is that scientific and technological advances catalyze the development of technologies to deliver fresh water to remote areas of Texas.
  • What Is Water-Related Terrorism and How to Cope With It? Water-related terrorism includes damaging government facilities, and since water resources are vital for human existence, it is profitable for terrorists to attack them.
  • Whirlpool in the Sea off the Coast of Scotland Near Ayrshire Due to Waste Water Stunning drone images near Lendalfoot in South Ayrshire captured a glimpse of a mammoth whirlpool off the Scottish west coast.
  • Fresh Water Toxins: Serious Threat to Health This paper discusses fresh water toxins as a serious threat to health, analyzes Los Angeles drinking water, access to clean water and sanitation.
  • Safe Drinking Water: Current Status and Recommendations The study proposes the usage of agricultural waste as a sustainable biosorbent for toxic metal ions removal from contaminated water.
  • Essentials of Water in Supporting Biological Systems Water is essential in supporting the biological system in various ways; the properties of water help in understanding its importance.
  • Underground Water Contamination in St. Louis Mo City In St. Louis Mo City of Missouri State, contamination of underground water is most likely and that is why the water supply is a subject to government policies.
  • Twitter Campaign: Impact of Water Runoff Water runoff can cause flooding, which means property damage and mold formation in damp basements and more. This paper is a twitter campaign about the impact of water runoff.
  • Water Pollution of New York City Rivers The aim of the analysis was to assess the effects of CSOs on water quality and the environment at different sites along the Harlem River.
  • Water Cooling Tower Construction Site’s Problems The paper highlights three major problems at the construction site. They are security, scheduling, and safety problems.
  • Is Bottled Water Safe for Public Health? Bottled water is just water but is marketed in such a way that makes it appear as healthy because it is positioned as “bottles water is healthy”.
  • Recent Water Treatment and Production Developments This study attempts to investigate whether inorganic filters are more suitable for industrial and water treatment processes when compared to organic filters.
  • Chemistry: Partitioning Coefficient of the Water The partitioning coefficient of the water solutions with of diuron, decadienal, atrazine, fluoranthene, and desethylatrazine compounds are calculated in accordance with the formula.
  • Developing Suspension Carbon Nano-Tubes in Water This paper has discussed nano-tubes and suspension as well as stabilization which make use of Multi-Wall-Carbon-Nanotubes by the function of concentrated SDS.
  • A Cartographic History of Water Infrastructure and Urbanism in Rome The freshwater available to the city was a huge cultural and economic boon to Roman citizens. Some of this ancient water infrastructure is operational to this day.
  • Integrated Water Strategies From Website Water Recycling The website http://waterrecycling.com/ is a front-end of their company showing various services that the company offers in the field of water recycling.
  • The Causes of Water Pollution Water pollution is a significant decrease in water resources’ quality due to the ingress of various chemicals and solid waste. The causes of pollution are related to human activities.
  • Water Quality Assessment. Environmental Impact Maintaining good water quality is essential to human health; thus, the recent decades have outstandingly worsened the water across communities worldwide by pollution.
  • Political Ecology and Water Wars in Bolivia The given critical assessment will primarily focus on bringing a new perspective to the issue from the standpoint of political ecology.
  • Benefits of Water Birth Overview Waterbirth remains to be a controversial approach. The studies examined in this paper provide some evidence for the benefits that waterbirth has.
  • The Influence of Water on the Growth of Popcorn Plants The information from the study would aid farmers in identifying appropriate seasons to cultivate popcorn plants based on data of meteorological forecasts.
  • Boiling Is a Process That Cools the Water This paper tells that bringing water to a boil while making tea is a progression that cools it since the process lessens the overall temperature.
  • Water Conservation Practice in Olympia Olympia city has a comprehensive water conservation program that involves many projects. The city puts much effort into the conservation of water.
  • First Nations Communities Water Resources Drinking water is by no means an infinite resource, but there are places in the world where women and children spend hours each day just to collect it.
  • Water Quality and Supply The main problem on the way to the solution of environmental issues is a violation of generally accepted rules.
  • Water Conservation Practice in Houston From the treatment of wastewater to the reduction of the consumption of the same Houston is an epitome of the increasing need to conserve resources, especially water.
  • Burning Issue of Water Pollution in Washington The problem of polluted drinking water in Washington should be solved immediately despite various obstacles, such as pressure for money, etc.
  • Drinking-Water in Third World Countries The shortage of drinking water in countries of Third World and the public controversy, surrounding the issue, illustrates the validity of this thesis better then anything else.
  • Underground Water Overdraft in Southern California In California, the overuse of underground water reserves and the resultant overexploitation (overdraft) led to a serious water resources deficit.
  • Water and Soil Pollution: Effects on the Environment Water and soil pollution is the process of contaminating water and soil. In this project, we will investigate the apparent main pollutants of the Spring Mill Lake.
  • Bottled Water: Culture and Environmental Impact Bottled water as a particular branch of industrial growth in countries throughout the world represents the source of environmental pollution.
  • Alternative Energy Sources: A Collaborative Approach in Water Management With the increasingly high prices of gasoline in particular and fossil fuels in general there is a need to find an alternative source of energy.
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons Effect on Water Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) constitute one of the largest groups of compounds that produce widespread organic environmental pollution posing a risk to marine biota
  • Lack of Water in California as an Environmental Issue California can run out of water because of technological and social problems that affected the region. Defining water resources’ “development” is critically important.
  • Water Scarcity in the Middle East The Arab region has always had issues with the water supply but as the population continues to grow steadily, this issue has become even more alarming
  • Potential Threats to Water Supplies in Ottawa The purpose of the research is to identify the distribution of threats to drinking water in the city and determine who might benefit and who might be harmed in the process.
  • Water Quality in Savannah, Georgia The City of Savannah Water Supply and Treatment Department conducts numerous annual tests to ensure that drinking water in the region is safe for human consumption.
  • Water Pollution Index of Batujai Reservoir, Central Lombok Regency-Indonesia Despite having 6% of the world’s water resources, Indonesia’s environmental policies have not only been raising concerns but also pushed the country to the brink of water crisis.
  • Dream Water Company’s Product Marketing The core product is the main benefit that the product brings to the consumer. For Dream Water, the core product is the medication against insomnia.
  • Water Management in the “Flow” Documentary The documentary “Flow” discusses and describes two significant things that are preventing people from having access to freshwater.
  • Water Sanitation Program in Saudi Arabia In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as the demand for water continues to increase without an equivalent increase in the supply, the level of hygiene may soon become a problem.
  • Virtual Water Content and Global Water Savings The Virtual Water Content concept was the byproduct of discussions regarding the need to provide food in countries suffering from drought or plagued with perpetual water scarcity.
  • Active Remediation Algorithm for Water Service in Flint The Active Remediation algorithm aims to inspect the water service in Flint, Michigan, and identify those lead pipes that need to be replaced by copper pipes.
  • Water Savings and Virtual Trade in Agriculture Water trade in agriculture is not a practice that is unique to the modern generation. The practice was common long before the emergence of the Egyptian Empire.
  • Virtual Water Trade and Savings in Agriculture This essay discusses the savings associated with virtual water trade in agriculture and touches on the effects of a shift to local agricultural production on global water savings.
  • Virtual Water Trade of Agricultural Products Virtual water trade is a concept associated with globalization and the global economy. Its rise was motivated by growing water scarcity in arid areas around the world.
  • Environmental Legislation: Clean Water Act Clean Water Act determines water quality standards, serves as a basis for the enactment of pollution control programs, and regulates the presence of contaminants in surface water.
  • Green Infrastructure in Water Management This paper evaluates the utility of water management in urban areas from the aspect of perception and interpretation of green infrastructure in water management.
  • Third-Party Logistics, Water Transportation, Pipelines Transportation plays a crucial role in today’s business world. This work shows the benefits and limitations of third-party logistics providers, water transportation, and pipelines.
  • Water Quality and Contamination In this paper, carries out detailed experiments on the bottled and tap water available to consumers to establish whether it is worthwhile to purchase bottled water.
  • Oil, Water and Corruption in Central Asian States The region of Central Asia has been a focus of the world’s political and economic attention due to its rich oil and gas resources. Corruption is the main curse of Central Asian states.
  • Environmental Studies: Water Recycling Different countries face varying challenges in as far as the provision of clean water to its population is concerned depending on its economic development level and geographic location.
  • Environmental Pollution (Fresh Water) In terms of the water Pollution, conditioning it would be analyzed whether it has declined or improved over the past few years and if so the degree would be determined.
  • How Does Water Pollution Affect Human Health?
  • Are Sports Drinks Better for Athletes Than Water?
  • What Happens if You Don’t Filter Your Water?
  • Can Game Theory Help to Mitigate Water Conflicts in the Syrdarya Basin?
  • How Can We Reduce Water Scarcity?
  • Are Water Filters Really That Important?
  • How Much Water Do We Need to Feed the World?
  • Why Is Water Important for Food Production?
  • Can Markets Improve Water Allocation in Rural America?
  • How Can We Reduce Water Consumption in Food Industry?
  • Can Public Sector Reforms Improve the Efficiency of Public Water Utilities?
  • What Are the Modern Technologies Used to Treat Water?
  • How Does Water Pollution Affect Global Warming?
  • Can Sea Water Generate Usable Energy?
  • What Are the Steps Taken by the Government to Reduce Water Pollution?
  • Can Sugar Help Lower the Freezing Point of Water?
  • Do We Need More Laws to Control Water Pollution?
  • Can the Global Community Successfully Confront the Global Water Shortage?
  • What Is the Government Doing to Save Water?
  • Can Virtual Water ‘Trade’ Reduce Water Scarcity in Semi-arid Countries?
  • Does Urbanization Improve Industrial Water Consumption Efficiency?
  • How Has Technology Helped Us Save Water?
  • Does Piped Water Improve Household Welfare?
  • Can Water Pollution Policy Be Efficient?
  • How Does Green Infrastructure Improve Water Quality?

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StudyCorgi. (2021, September 9). 167 Water Essay Topics & Research Questions about Water. https://studycorgi.com/ideas/water-essay-topics/

"167 Water Essay Topics & Research Questions about Water." StudyCorgi , 9 Sept. 2021, studycorgi.com/ideas/water-essay-topics/.

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1. StudyCorgi . "167 Water Essay Topics & Research Questions about Water." September 9, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/ideas/water-essay-topics/.


StudyCorgi . "167 Water Essay Topics & Research Questions about Water." September 9, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/ideas/water-essay-topics/.

StudyCorgi . 2021. "167 Water Essay Topics & Research Questions about Water." September 9, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/ideas/water-essay-topics/.

These essay examples and topics on Water were carefully selected by the StudyCorgi editorial team. They meet our highest standards in terms of grammar, punctuation, style, and fact accuracy. Please ensure you properly reference the materials if you’re using them to write your assignment.

This essay topic collection was updated on January 9, 2024 .

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NWQP Water-Quality Topics Active

Curious about water-quality science, learn more about these topics and how they relate to groundwater quality and surface-water quality and ecology.

From chloride to corrosivity, from pesticides to PAHs, find the most recent National Water Quality Program (NWQP) science on these topics and effects on surface water, groundwater, and ecology.  Informative web pages provide an overview and links to related web pages, publications, maps, news, and data.

eDNA sample collection from Alisal Creek, California


Macro-invertebrate sampling during SESQA ecological survey

CONTAMINANTS IN WATER       Arsenic       Chloride and salinity       Emerging contaminants  (including pharmaceuticals and hormones)       Mercury       Metals       Nutrients       National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP)       Pesticides       Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and coal-tar sealant       Radionuclides       Sediment-associated contaminants       Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including MTBE  

Water Quality sampling of a public water supply well

DRINKING WATER ISSUES       Corrosivity       Domestic (private) supply wells       Public-supply wells       Drinking-water taste and odor       Water-quality benchmarks       Drinking-water and source-water research  

RELATIONS TO AQUATIC LIFE       Stream ecology       Mercury in stream ecosystems       Flow alteration       Harmful algal blooms (HABs)  

TRENDS IN WATER QUALITY       Water-quality trends       Water-quality trends from lake sediment cores  

PROCESSES       Oxidation/Reduction (Redox)



►    Confused by some of the water-quality terms?  Find the definitions and explanations you're looking for in the  Water-Quality Glossary .    

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Water Quality Awareness — 10 Answers To Your Questions About U.S. Tap Water

August is National Water Quality Awareness Month, and it comes at a time when drinking water in America is making headlines again.

Researchers say the  water crisis in Flint, Michigan , is nearing an end as tests show significantly fewer homes have water contaminated with lead. The situation there has heightened awareness about drinking water contamination nationwide, which could be more widespread than the public realizes.

Lead is far from the only thing that can contaminate a home’s water, and it’s important to know what your family is drinking. This article is not intended to shock and scare people about water quality. However, you should be aware of possible risks and take steps to keep your family safe and healthy.

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about water quality in the U.S.

1. how does u.s. water quality compare to the rest of the world.

We are very fortunate to live in part of the world in which the water quality is much better than other places. That’s why you’re often warned not to drink tap water when you travel to certain foreign countries.

This  infographic , which cites research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), indicates only the U.S. and Canada along with western Europe, Japan, and Australia have tap water that’s considered safe for drinking.

According to the organization  WaterAid , more than 650 million people around the world have no access to safe drinking water, and 900 children die every day because of digestive issues from unclean water and poor sanitation.

While it’s true that things could be much worse for Americans, we must continue to be vigilant about water quality.

2. Who Regulates the Water We Drink?

The answer to this question depends on which kind of drinking water you’re talking about. There are multiple agencies responsible for regulating water quality in the U.S., and there are some who are more critical about the way it’s handled.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in charge of overseeing the water that comes out of your tap. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees and regulates the quality of bottled water.

Individual states are responsible for regulating water that is bottled and sold within their borders. Finally, your municipality must make sure it is following federal and state standards regarding water quality.

The EPA  does not  regulate private wells, and rules for testing differ from state to state. In many cases, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to make sure their well water is safe.

3. What are Water Contaminants?

According to the EPA, the  Safe Drinking Water Act  (SDWA) defines water contaminants quite broadly. A contaminant can be anything that isn’t a water molecule. So if it’s not H 2 O, it’s technically a contaminant.

This means that not every contaminant is unsafe to consume. For instance, the dissolved minerals found in 80% of the water in the U.S. pose no health risks. However, minerals like calcium and magnesium can cause  hard water problems .

There are many other water contaminants that could lead to health problems. The Water Quality Association (WQA) provides a  list of common water contaminants  and documents their potential health risks.

The  EPA says  water contaminants can be:

  • Physical – sediment or organic material that changes water’s physical properties.
  • Chemical – either naturally-occurring or man-made.
  • Biological – microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
  • Radiological – chemical elements that emit radiation such as cesium, plutonium, and uranium.

4. What Contaminants Might be Found in Ground Water?

According to  GroundWater.org , more than half of the U.S. depends on groundwater, which can be used for municipal water and as the source of water for people with private wells.

Groundwater is an important resource, but it can become easily contaminated and polluted. As the experts at The Groundwater Foundation explain …

“Groundwater contamination occurs when man-made products such as gasoline, oil, road salts and chemicals get into the groundwater and cause it to become unsafe and unfit for human use. Materials from the land’s surface can move through the soil and end up in the groundwater.”

Those materials also include pesticides, fertilizer, and other agricultural runoff like manure, as well as toxic material from hazardous waste sites and leaky landfills.

The graphic below shows the many ways groundwater becomes contaminated and the sources from which those contaminants may come.

sources_of_gw_contamination (1)

5. What Goes Into Municipal Water?

Municipal water is processed at a water treatment facility before it’s delivered to the public, which should make it safe for residents to use.

Municipalities add chemicals to the water when it is treated. One of the most common chemicals used in water treatment is chlorine, which is used as a disinfectant to kill bacteria and other microbes. Sometimes chloramine, a combination of chlorine and ammonia, is also used.

A small, but potential risk of these chemicals comes from byproducts they create in the water when reacting with organic compounds. Those byproducts are  trihalomethanes  (THMs) and  haloacetic acids  (HAAs). Some studies indicate THMs and HAAs are linked to increase risk of serious health problems like cancer and heart disease.

However, it’s important to note that water quality would be much worse if municipalities did not use these chemicals to eliminate what could be harmful. The World Health Organization (WHO) says health risks from chlorine are small compared to the dangers of failing to properly disinfect public water.

6. How Does Lead Get in Drinking Water?

Due to the media attention Flint, Michigan, received over its water crisis, a lot of people have questions about lead in public water systems around the U.S.

Lead (as well as copper) typically enters the public supply by leaching into water from corroded fixtures and outdated plumbing. Homes built before 1986 will likely have plumbing with copper pipes using solder that may contain lead.

Lead can cause serious negative health effects, especially in children. The challenge is that it is undetectable by human senses. You can check with your local water authority for information about lead levels, but it’s important to note that the CDC and EPA say there’s  no level  of lead recognized as safe for consumption.

If you have concerns about the presence of lead in your water, you can have it tested in a state-certified laboratory. You can also read more in our article on  lead in drinking water .

7. What if My Water Tastes, Smells, or Looks Strange?

Certain things can affect the flavor, odor, and appearance of your tap water, not all of them are necessarily harmful.

Many people with public water can taste the chlorine, although the most noticeable problems tend to come from private wells. Contaminants like sulfur can impact the smell, while iron will cause discoloration and staining.

The overall amount of total dissolved solids (TDS) in your tap water will definitely affect the taste, smell, and appearance. While many of these issues are not serious concerns, they can certainly be a nuisance. Water filtration systems, including a high-efficiency water softener to reduce hardness, can provide solutions.

You can contact a residential water treatment expert to come to your home and evaluate things like mineral content and TDS. Check out our pictorial about  in-home water quality consultations  to see what you can expect during a visit from one of our trained experts.

8. Is Bottled Water Safer and Cleaner than Tap Water?’

You might think the safest bet is to purchase bottled water at the store if you want to avoid contaminants in the water you drink. In the past 10 to 15 years, regulations surrounding the quality of bottled water have improved, and bottlers need to back up their claims concerning how their product is marketed. However, bottled water may not be the most cost-effective or environmentally-friendly way to get quality drinking water.

In many cases, bottled water is nothing more than tap water that has usually been treated. This means you could be wasting your money and creating unnecessary waste by drinking bottled water when other filtration options can give you the same quality in your home.

Learn more about why  you should stop buying bottled water  here on our blog.

9. How Can I be Sure My Water is Safe to Drink?

The most trustworthy way to find out what’s in your water and its safety is to send samples to a state-certified lab and have it tested.

You can also do some of your own initial research into water quality. For example, the EPA requires your local water utility to provide a  Consumer Confidence Report  on water quality every year. It should have details on contaminants that may be in your water and the health risks. Use this  online tool  to find out how to get your report.

For homeowners with a private well, the Groundwater Foundation recommends having your water tested at a state-certified lab, like Water-Right’s Clean Water Testing, at least once every year.

Water samples for testing should be taken from the source as well as the tap. For bacterial concerns, it’s best for homeowners to contact a local lab because the bacteria could die before an out-of-state lab can test for contamination. For instance, e-coli only lives in water for 48 hours, so testing must be done as soon as possible.

10. Are There Residential Water Treatment Products that Can Help?

If you want complete peace of mind concerning what’s in your water, there are various in-home water filtration options.

One of the best ways to reduce contaminants and get safe water from the tap is to install a reverse osmosis (R.O.) system. Find out more about  how R.O. systems work  as well as the  benefits of reverse osmosis water  here on our blog.

Yet another option for improving water quality is a  UV light purification system .

Find the right contractor for you.

Recent homeowner resources.

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good research questions about water

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