Freshwater is vital to human survival. Our ancestors had the keen awareness that it was strategically advantageous to settle near rivers. This understanding drove the transition from tribes of early hunter-gatherers into civilization as we know it. Along with being a consistent source of drinkable water, rivers provide fertile land for hunting, fishing, agriculture, and transportation.
After thousands of years of civilization, many of us no longer need to dwell near freshwater sources to experience the benefits. Advances in technology have drastically changed the means of water collection, treatment, and distribution.