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Household Service

The most advanced distribution systems have infrastructure like reservoirs, pumps, and pipes to deliver water directly to households at a continuously maintained, positive pressure. These systems are the standard in developed nations—particularly in urban areas.

In Africa, only one in four people have household service. Only about half of the population of Asia enjoys household service, while in Latin America and the Caribbean just two out of every three people have these distribution systems.

Distribution systems that deliver water to households gather water either directly from a surface or groundwater source or from a water treatment facility that purifies the source water and stores it to ensure users a continuous supply regardless of seasonal or other variability. The water is then pumped directly to consumers’ homes.

Extensive modern water distribution systems offer great convenience to the consumer. Yet these systems are expensive to create and maintain as they require a great deal of infrastructure to deliver water directly to the home. These costs are part of the cost of water supply that is charged to the consumer.

Many existing piped-water systems do not provide constant service. The intermittent service in such systems may be caused by a variety of factors. Old or damaged infrastructure, including leaky pipes, can be expensive to maintain and may be unable to produce a constant supply. In other areas, once-constant supplies have been disrupted by warfare, governmental changes, or seasonal water shortages that necessitate rationing. Also, power to drive the pumps may not be available 24 hours per day.

Infrastructure breakdowns not only cause intermittent water service but also serious water quality degradation. When infrastructure fails, the water in such systems is subject to recontamination. This can lead to diarrheal disease from microorganisms.

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