Since the very dawn of history, water has always been noted as one of the fundamental requirements for human and ecosystems survival. Many early civilisations developed near major rivers like the Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Indus and Yellow River. In earlier times, major clusters of human population were few and scattered, and the ranges of human activities were limited. Water was plentiful, especially compared to its total demand, and of reasonably good quality. Accordingly, water was not a major consideration, unless there were prolonged droughts or severe floods.
As the population increased over the centuries, and the range and extent of human economic and commercial activities expanded, especially after the Industrial Revolution, available water sources came under increasing pressure, both in terms of quantity and quality.
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