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Water in three states: liquid (ocean), solid (iceberg) and gaseous (invisible water vapor in the air).

Water is the most abundant component of the earth, covering 70 percent of its surface.[1] Water is the only common substance that is readily found in all three states: liquid, solid and gaseous. All living organisms contain water and due to its unique chemical properties it is a crucial aspect for life. Humans are made up of 70 percent water and it is required for our proper biological functioning.[2]

Water as a Human NeedEdit

Water provides us with the minerals we need to stay healthy. It is the primary component of our blood, sweat and tears, making up a huge portion of our lymph and blood systems. Water transports food and oxygen to different parts of the body and carries waste out. It helps to control our blood pressure and regulate our body temperature. It flushes out toxic material in the kidneys and serves as a shock-absorber for our organs. It moistens our mouth, nasal passages and eyes and also acts to lubricate our joints so we can move around comfortably.[3] Needless to say, water is a fundamental basic human need and is an essential component of human survival.

Water Collection and Water Supply Timeline Edit

The water supply is the provision of purified water available to a population by public facilities. The water is usually supplied through a system of pumps and pipes that channels water from a natural source, such as lakes and rivers, to a community establishment.[4]



In the short-term, individuals could no longer depend on public facilities to supply them with water and had to be self-sufficient in terms of acquiring water for themselves and the group the were with. Water had to be scavenged by these surviving individuals. Bottled water was scavenged by individuals who remained in urban areas and  from natural fresh-water sources such as rivers and lakes by thoses who escaped to the wilderness. The water from rivers and lakes was purified by individuals using the boiling method or, if they had access to the correct substances, chemical methods. Individuals who did not know how to properly purify water were oftentimes left incompasitated by water-born diseases. Many of these vulnerable people were easy targets for the ferals and were met with death. 


Water well types wiki.svg

This diagram is an illustration of the various different kinds of water wells.


In the midterm when individuals began forming larger more stable groups water wells, which are deep holes sunk into the earth, were built and used as the primary source for a population to obtain water.[5] These wells supplied water by tapping into aquifers which are underground layers of permeable rock sediment or soil that yields water.[6] These wells ranged from more simple forms where the well-water is drawn by hand using containers, to more complex forms where the water is pumped up mechanically. 

Long-term Edit

Indoor PlumbingEdit

Eventually, after many years of surviving without pre-pandemic, modern society's complex system of water supply, these systems began to be re-established in settled post-pandemic populations. These populations usually opted to settle in abandoned cities and towns and because of this, were left with old plumbing infrastructure to work with. As these pumps and pipes had been abandoned and left not maintained for several years, they initially were not in proper working order. Members of new post-pandemic societies that used to work in fields such as plumbing and construction worked together for several years to repair damaged infrastructure and to get the water supply up and running again. 

Water Purification Edit

The provision of clean drinking water and safe disposal of faeces is key to reducing individuals' risk of contracting water-borne diseases. In order to ensure the well-being of the population it is necessary that a populations' water supply is disinfected to prevent disease transmission.[7]

There are many different methods that can be used in the process of water purification. These techniques range from simple and basic ones to increasingly complex and complicated methods.

Boiling MethodsEdit

A simple method for disinfecting water to prevent the acquisition of water-borne diseases is to simply boil a supply of water for at least one minute. This boiling of the water kills any disease-causing microorganisms present and renders the water safe for individuals to consume.[8] The boiling method of water purification was used immediately following the outbreak and throughout different periods of time in the midterm, when there was no access to chemical substances.

Chemical MethodsEdit

Various chemical methods can be used to purify a supply of water including: Chlorine Bleach, Chlorine Tablets, Granular Calcium Hypochlorite, Tincture of Iodine and Iodine tablets. These methods work to disinfect the water as they contain different chemical compounds that kill the harmful, disease causing microorganisms. As these methods require chemical substances that might not necessarily be available in the wake of the pandemic they were primarily used in the short-term, when these substances should be scavenged by survivors and in the long-term, after scientists had returned to the labs and started producing these chemicals once again.[9]

Sewage Collection and Disposal TimelineEdit


This diagram illustrates a typical city or town's water supply and sewage treatment plant prior to the pandemic of 2015.

Water-borne diseases are caused by individuals consuming water that  has been contaminated by human or animal faeces. Due to the nature of these types of diseases, it is essential that a population devises a way to deal with sewage and waste water to avoid individual members contracting them. 



Immediately following the outbreak, most individuals were alone or were in very small groups. Many groups that retreated to the wilderness, used "camping" methods to dispose of their waste - they would ensure that they were far away from natural water sources and would dig small holes to dispose their waste in. These methods were also used by groups that remained inside the cities, when venturing outside to scavenge for resources they would also try to find somewhere to dispose of their waste. Near the end of the short-term period, recipticals called latrines which were usually in the form of a pit in the earth, were used as toilets.[10]



In the midterm period, when people began to band together into larger more stable groups, more advanced forms of latrines were constructed and used. Outhouses, which are small structures separate from the main buildings that cover and contain outdoor toilets were used.[11] These styles of toilets let individuals regain the washroom privacy that they had become acustamed to in pre-pandemic times.


Flush ToiletsEdit

With the re-establishment of a modern system of plumbing came the repair of abandoned sewage treatment plants and the construction of new ones. Sewage treatment plants are facilities that receive wastewater from community and domestic establishments and remove hazardous materials from the water before releasing the water into receiving bodies of water. Flush toilets, a modern amenity greatly missed by survivors of the pandemic of 2015, are  in use once again. These toilets dispose of human waste by using water to flush it through a series of pipes until this wastewater eventually reaches a treatment plant ( source-  

Water-borne DiseasesEdit

Water-borne diseases are a consequence to a population lacking access to sanitary drinking water. of Prior to the pandemic of 2015, in 2013 as many as 780 million people, mainly in developing countries, did not have access to safe drinking water.[12] This lack of access was believed to account for around ten percent of the worldwide total burden of disease.[13]


The category of diarrhoea includes other diseases including cholera, typhoid and dysentery that all involve "faecal-oral" transmission pathways.[14] In pre-pandemic years, while most diarrhoea diseases could be easily treated by drug store medication, and more severe types by medical physicians, they were considered life-threatening to people in developing countries.

Symptoms of Diarrhoea and diarrhoea related diseases can include the following:

  • Watery or loose stools
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration[15]

Natural RemediesEdit

It is important that afflicted individuals avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of properly disinfected water. Eating bland foods may also help to calm the stomach.[16]

Flesh-Eating Hookworm

Flesh-Eating Hookworm

Intestinal nematode infections, such as Hookworm, are contracted through faeces-contaminated soil. These types of diseases are a result of poor sanitation and poor hygiene conditions.

Intestinal Nematode InfectionsEdit

Intestinal nematode infections, including scariasis, trichuriasis and hookworm, occurs when individuals come into contact with faeces-contaminated soil. These types of illnesses are a result of poor hygiene and sanitation conditions and can largely be prevented by the implementation of proper sanitation and sewage facilities.

Symptoms of various Intestinal Nematode Infections can include:

  • Anemia resulting from blood loss 
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue 
  • Weight loss
  • Rash[17]

Natural RemediesEdit

Intestinal Nematode Infections can sometimes resolve themselves but can also persist for long periods of time. Many different types of different herbs, vegetables and fruit have been associated with having activity against certain kinds of intestinal parasites. Ingesting garlic, black walnut, wormwood, worm-seed, pumpkin seeds and grapefruit seeds are all herbal remedies that are known to help with the treatment of intestinal parasites.[18]

Lymphatic FilariasisEdit

Lymphatic Filariasis is a parasitic disease and it contracted through being bitten by a mosquito or a black-fly that has breed in faeces contaminated water. Because of this, the disease is primarily thought of as being a direct result of unsafe water, poor sanitation and insufficient hygiene.[19] This disease causes individulas to become severly incapacitated due to swelling and infection in their extremities.[20]

Symptoms of Lymphatic Filariasis include the following:

  • Lymphedema: swelling from fluid build-up caused by the malfunctioning of the lymph system
  • Elephantiasis: a syndrome that leads to engorgement, thickened skin and causes disfigurement
  • Hydrocele (in men only): swelling of the scrotum[21]

Natural remediesEdit

A successful treatment of this disease requires that entry points of infection are treated with bio-medical drugs, including topical anti-fungals, antibacterials and antibiotics. In times where drugs are unavailable, there are natural remedies that can help with the experience of the symptoms including washing the affected limb with soap and soaking it with, the manual draining of lymphs and the application of pressure bandages.[22]


Trachoma is an infectious eye disease that can lead to to painful visual impairments and blindness. As with Lymphatic Filariasis, the cause of Trachoma is unsafe, contaminated water, poor sanitation and insufficient facial hygiene.[23]

Symptoms of Trachoma include the following:

  • Scarring of the inside of the eyelid
  • Triasis: eyelashes turn inward and scratch the cornea
  • Pain in eye and surrounding area
  • Visual impairements
  • Blindness[24]

Natural RemediesEdit

Antibiotics are used in the treatment of trachoma. There are no real viable methods to treat trachoma without using bio-medical drugs. As such, prevention of the disease is extremely important. To prevent themselves from contracting the disease, individuals must ensure proper facial hygiene.[25]

Diarrhoea, intestinal nematode infections, lymphatic filariasis and trachoma are several diseases that are directly related to populations not having access to a clean water source. Experts of the past insisted that the vast majority of these illnesses, around 9.1 percent of the total worldwide burden of disease could be prevented solely through improvements related to drinking-water, sanitation, hygiene and water resource management.[26] To avoid these life-threatening diseases in post-pandemic populations it is imperative that we strive to rebuild, maintain, and manage the water supply to insure that high standards of hygiene, sanitation, and cleanliness of drinking-water are met.


  2. Peter J. Russell et al, The Chemical, Physical and Environmental Foundations of Biology in Biology: Exploring the Diversity of Life, Second Canadian Edition (Toronto: Nelson Education, 2013), F2-F55.
  5. http://www.thefree