The primary problems concerning water resources in Sri Lanka are the depletion and degradation of the resource caused by various anthropogenic activities. Surface inland waters in urban areas are polluted heavily with domestic sewage and industrial effluents, and in rural areas with agricultural runoff. With regard to ground water in certain areas of the dry zone, there is a high fluoride content and in hard, rocky, alluvial areas, there is a high concentration of iron. In urban over-crowded cities, there is biological contamination of ground water. Over-utilization, particularly through tube wells, is another major problem affecting ground water resources in Sri Lanka. Oil spills, dumping of waste from ships, coral and sand mining, and industrial activities are the main causes of marine pollution in the country. Except for pipe-borne water supply, irrigation and hydropower schemes, in general water resources in Sri Lanka are managed very poorly. Regulations are available to control most water related problems but enforcement of these regulations is lacking.
The ultimate result of degradation and depletion of water resources is the increasing health hazards. Water-borne and vector-borne diseases are prevalent, particularly amongst urban low-income communities with poor sanitary facilities and drainage. Despite government initiatives and legislation, very slow progress has been made towards combating water pollution. This paper examines the most significant water and wastewater related issues in Sri Lanka and their controlling mechanisms.