Life as we know it is unsustainable without water. Water is so essential for life that civilizations have risen and collapsed, due to their capacity, or lack thereof, to harvest a continual supply of water.
Without question, water along with oxygen is our most precious resource, and great care must be taken to protect it. Governments around the world have recognized this fact and have crafted byzantine codifications mandating protection protocols, treatment programs, and storage and distribution regulatory requirements.
The most predominant problems facing the world in regards to water are:
- Quantity — Only 2.5% of the earth’s water is freshwater, and much of it is inaccessible as it is frozen in icecaps or glaciers, or in the ground.
- Quality — According to the United Nations, by the year 2025, 50% of the world’s population will be facing a daily struggle to find enough water to meet their basic needs.
While quantity effects many nations, quality is primarily a problem of the developing world. Modern water treatment systems throughout the developed world have eradicated most deadly pathogens, and thankfully your nightly news is not filled with stories of outbreaks of cholera or typhoid.
Because water is such a finite resource, and so basic to our survival, we must take every possible precaution in safeguarding it throughout its entire lifecycle: extraction, treatment, storage, distribution, and process.
Concrete is the preferred building material used in regards to water structures. Whether it’s a megalithic concrete dam, holding back tens of millions of gallons of water, or pretreatment and treatment units at your municipal water treatment plant, you will see that it’s made of concrete. Concrete is a great building material for water structures, as it is can be made fluid-proof and strong; has a very long lifecycle; and is relatively easy to manufacture and install almost anywhere in the world. On the downside, concrete can not be truly functional without the addition of joints, and joints will leak unless adequate provisions are made to fluid-proof them. This is the primary function of waterstop: to prevent the passage of fluids through concrete joints.
From "The Little Book of Waterstop" by David Poole