Presenting target 6.3 on water quality and wastewater
What and why?
Target 6.3 sets out to improve ambient water quality, which is essential to protecting both ecosystem health and human health, by eliminating, minimizing and significantly reducing different streams of pollution into water bodies. The main sources of pollution include wastewater from households, commercial establishments and industries (point sources), as well as run-off from urban and agricultural land (non-point sources).
Wastewater generated by households can result in the spread of pathogens and detrimental nutrient loadings in receiving waters if it is discharged without treatment. Wastewater generated by economic activities such as manufacturing industries may contain a variety of pollutants, including hazardous substances.
The focus on recycling, for example, recirculating water within an industry, and safe reuse, for example, using wastewater in agriculture, are complementary to the focus of SDG target 6.4 on reducing freshwater withdrawals and improving use efficiency.
How can monitoring help?
Monitoring wastewater treatment and ambient water quality helps policy- and decision makers to identify water bodies at risk, and by combining water quality data with information about how the watercourse is being used, to direct interventions where they will have the greatest impact.
Monitoring also enables stricter enforcement of pollution laws and discharge permits. If a country lacks national targets for safe wastewater treatment or water quality parameters, the monitoring of the global indicators provides a good opportunity to develop these.
Progress towards target 6.3 at the global level will be monitored through two indicators: