Climate change is already affecting water access for people around the country, causing more severe droughts and floods. Increasing temperatures are one of the main contributors to this problem. Climate change impacts the water cycle and also leads to more severe weather events over time. Increasing global temperatures causes water to evaporate in larger amounts, which will lead to higher levels of atmospheric water vapor and more frequent, heavy, and intense rains in the coming years.
Despite abundance of fresh water resources, about 60% of rural population in Georgia do not have access to safe water as well as to sustainable sanitation systems. Drinking water in rural areas is often obtained from shallow wells, mountain springs which are often polluted with microbes and nitrates and pose a threat to the health of population.
Pit Latrines are the primary form of sanitation used. These pit-latrines are often a source of groundwater pollution (drinking water and wells) and pit-latrines have been linked to incidences of diarrhea and intestinal infections. Little attention is given, and low awareness exists on hygiene, water and sanitation related diseases, and about safe and affordable solutions for improved water and sanitation solutions.
The provision of safe and acceptable drinking-water frequently represents a challenge to small-scale water supplies. The actual performance of the existing water supply systems is a problem. Poor quality of the distribution network results in a water loss rate of 25-50%, in the communities. Most of the households suffer from interrupted supply, receiving water much less than 3-4 hours a day. In many cases, water head works and drinking water treatment facilities are technically unfit, and lack adequate supplies of filter materials, installations and chemical reagents. Surveys, conducted by National Center for Disease Control of Georgia in the last decade proved that the quality of drinking water failed to meet state standards, causing threats of intestinal infection and epidemic outbreaks.
One of the most critical hazards within a water supply system is caused by infiltration and contamination of the drinking water with microorganisms (pathogens). Pathogens generally originate from human or animal faucal material, contaminating raw water and finding their way into the water delivery system. Sanitary inspections conducted within the frame of the project “Reducing the pollution of the Black Sea by introducing sustainable wastewater and nutrient management in rural communities “revealed a number of risk factors potentially compromising the provision of safe drinking-water. They include lack of sanitary protection zones, poorly located on-site sanitation facilities and inadequately designed and maintained abstraction facilities. In most small-scale water supplies, drinking-water is not disinfected the existing practices of chlorination is not in place. Drinking water quality problems are related to leaking pipes and cross contamination from the sewage system. Common sources of water contamination include: faeces from wildlife such as birds, grazing animals and vermin in and around reservoirs, backflow from unprotected connections and sewer cross connections. In some cases water supply of kindergartens and schools in rural areas is in deplorable condition: leaking pipes and taps, inappropriate sanitary systems and poorly maintained infrastructure makes the schools and kindergartens vulnerable towards waterborne diseases. Based on water quality and sanitary inspection findings the water supply systems in rural communities can be categorized at very high risk, requiring urgent attention and intervention in terms of improvement needs.
No regulatory, planning, financial and educational instruments exists to improve the situation of small-scale water supply and sanitation systems in rural and peri-urban areas of the country