23 July 2018: Water pollution from unsustainable agricultural practices threatens human health and ecosystems, according to a report published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) on behalf of the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems. Noting that the role of agriculture in water pollution is often underestimated by policymakers and farmers, the report titled, ‘More People, More Food, Worse Water? A Global Review of Water Pollution from Agriculture,’ explains that agriculture, not human settlements or industry, is the biggest source of water pollution. Nitrate from farming is the most common chemical contaminant found in groundwater aquifers.
The report aims to increase understanding regarding the causes and effects of agricultural water pollution and the means to prevent its occurrence. It covers agricultural sectors, such as cropping systems, and livestock and aquaculture production, as well as the expansion of irrigation, and fertilizer and pesticide use. It examines water pollution drivers, pressures and changes in water bodies, impacts on human health and the environment, and responses to prevent water pollution and mitigate its risks. The report explains that annual costs of water pollution from agriculture are in the billions of dollars.