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Water and Well-Being

Water History and Culture

  1. David Haley

Published Online: 15 JUL 2005

DOI: 10.1002/047147844X.wh36

Water Encyclopedia

Water Encyclopedia

How to Cite

Haley, D. 2005. Water and Well-Being. Water Encyclopedia. 4:791–793.

Author Information

  1. Picacadilly, Ulverston, Cumbria, United Kingdom

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2005


Using poetry and statements from eminent people representing many disciplines and supported by United Nations and World Health Organisation documents, this article explores the role of water as a human right, necessary to achieve the most fundamental standard of well-being. It also addresses the part played by water in sustaining ecological well-being and how this is integral to the relationship between humans and the environment.

Every culture expresses the very important relationship it has with water in some form or other. Here we focus on the ancient Chinese art of “geomancy,” Feng Shui, that pays particular attention to achieving well-being through the relationship with water. However, this reverence for water as a heavenly gift, spiritual source, or common resource may be diminishing as many societies value water only as a commercial commodity that may be controlled and sold for private, industrial, and agricultural use.

Finally, the relationship between water and well-being is considered a flowing system, a major dynamic element in the structure, pattern, and process of evolution, life, and well-being.

If well-being is defined as “… the maximisation of the pleasure available to us” (2) and is related to health, safety, welfare, comfort, security, happiness, goodness, and contentment, then water must play an important part in maintaining this desirable state. For without water, none of these qualities of life can be achieved. Water connects all life and water connects all aspects of well-being, including social, economic, environmental, health, and aesthetic well-being, as a basic human right.

Article 25, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (3) states: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family” (3). Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General confirmed that (a)ccess to safe water is a fundamental human need and therefore, a basic human right.


  • well-being;
  • health;
  • welfare;
  • security;
  • happiness;
  • social;
  • economic;
  • aesthetic;
  • right;
  • cultural diversity;
  • ecology;
  • Feng Shui