Google+ Badge

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Precious Water In a Wasteful Society


By Ralph Waldo Emerson 
The water understands
Civilization well;
It wets my foot, but prettily,
It chills my life, but wittily,
It is not disconcerted,
It is not broken-hearted:
Well used, it decketh joy,
Adorneth, doubleth joy:
Ill used, it will destroy,
In perfect time and measure
With a face of golden pleasure
Elegantly destroy.

Who can deny that most of us Americans care very little about water because, for most of our history, water has been abundant and good. But problems with infrastructure and supply are growing. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimated in 2010 that the country must spend $255 billion in the next five years to prevent deterioration of water infrastructure. We plan to spend half that amount.

Parts of America use up to 80% of their available freshwater resources. That means a slight drought or increase in usage will cause a water shortage.

How about the numbers of water wasters in America? According to Scientific American, America’s water footprint measures in at 1.053 billion cubic meters per year (that’s 278,173,171,133.1 gallons). Yes, China and India use more water generally, but we are close to their overall usage with a much smaller population than either of these countries. As individual Americans, (4.52% of the world population), we use more water per person than anyone else on the planet.

How do we use so much water? Easy. Keeping our lawns growing, filling swimming pools, not fixing leaky pipes, you name it. And the biggest water drain? The EPA estimates that 27% of our indoor water usage comes from the toilet. This number is even higher for older bathrooms.

10 Ways Americans Waste Water
  1. Americans now use 127 percent more water than we did in 1950.
  2. About 95 percent of the water entering our homes goes down the drain.
  3. Running the tap while brushing your teeth can waste 4 gallons of water.
  4. Older toilets can use 3 gallons of clean water with every flush, while new toilets use as little as 1 gallon.
  5. Leaky faucets that drip at the rate of one drop per second can waste up to 2,700 gallons of water each year.
  6. A garden hose or sprinkler can use almost as much water in an hour as an average family of four uses in one day.
  7. A water-efficient dishwasher will use as little a 4 gallons per wash cycle, whereas some older models use up to 13 gallons per cycle.
  8. Some experts estimate that more than 50 percent of landscape water use goes to waste due to evaporation or runoff caused by over-watering.
  9. Many people in the world exist on 3 gallons of water per day or less. We can use that amount in one flush of the toilet.
  10. Over a quarter of all the clean, drinkable water you use in your home is used to flush the toilets.
(Jon Clift and Amanda Cuthbert, "Ten Facts About the Water We Waste," 
Chelsea Green Publishing, July 29 2008)

Water, Water, Everywhere

Globally, the water crisis is much worse.

Water is our most precious resource. Simply put, water means life. We believe it is an inherent right, yet almost a billion people do not have access to safe drinking water and 2.5 billion live in areas without sanitation.

We, the populations of the world continue to pollute and over-exploit water, thus threatening our diverse ecosystems and, therefore, access to water today and in the future.

Water cycles in two ways:

(1) the first moves water from clouds to rain to oceans and back again,

(2) the second affects communities without access to water as this drags them deeper into poverty ana poor health, which, in turn, makes it more difficult for them to access waster.

While the first cycle rests in the hands of nature, 
the second rests in ours.

According to the Blue Planet Network, the lack of access to safe water is not a technical problem -- it is a human, logistics, funding and efficiency issue. The world has money to address adequately the issue.

"In fact, it would take 1/3 what the world spends on bottled water in one year to pay for projects providing water to everyone in need. (CBS News, FLOW). It is estimated that lack of community involvement causes 50% of projects to fail.

For every $1 invested in water and sanitation, the United Nations Development Program estimates a return of up to $9, depending on the region and technology. It is easy to understand what is most needed yet most cost efficient. "Getting clean water to rural villages is the most effective strategy to help the poor." (Christianity Today)

Blue Planet Network site link:

Water brings people together, not only geographically but in the sense that the water crisis provides an opportunity for the developed and developing worlds to work together like never before to pool their resources, knowledge, experience and dreams for a common purpose: to solve the problem and change the way society works.

Groups worldwide such as the ONE DROP initiative are working towards the solution. The movement dreams of a day when the people of the world unite to form a powerful river, sharing wealth of all kinds to protect our water and make certain everyone has access to it. ONE DROP believes global solidarity is the key to our dream of water for all, today and tomorrow.

ONE DROP site link:

Consider These Water Facts

* Without clean water and sanitation, it is impossible to address poverty, hunger or AIDS.

* Almost a billion people do not have access to safe drinking water, and 2.5 billion live without sanitation. That means one third of the people on earth lack adequate sanitation. Consider the sad irony: there are more cell phones in Asia and Africa than toilets.

* 1.6 billion live in areas where there is water, but they can't afford to drink it according to the International Water Management Institute.

* Daily consumption of water varies drastically. Consider this fact: in Mozambique, the average person uses less than 10 liters of water per day, while an American uses approximately 575 litres a day.

* Contaminated or poor-quality water is the second leading cause of infant mortality in the world, killing close to 2 million each year. It is believed that unsafe water kills 200 children every hour.

* Eighty percent of developing-world diseases are related to lack of safe drinking water. 

* It is estimated that nearly 10% of the global disease burden could be reduced through improved water supply, sanitation, hygiene, and water resource management.

* Disease related to the water supply greatly impacts poverty. Those who fall ill cannot go to school (especially women) or work and are subsequently dragged deeper into poverty. Safe drinking empowers women and fosters economic development.

* While our thirst for water steadily rises, the water supply does not. During the 20th century, the world’s population tripled, but its consumption of water increased sevenfold.

* Where we use water:

1. Agriculture (70% of world water use)
2. Industry (20%)
3. Domestic use (10%)

* The planet is buckling under the stress of supplying us with water for the seemingly infinite number of ways we have found to use it. Today, almost 1.4 billion people live in river basin areas where consumption of water exceeds the region’s ability to replenish itself. 

* In the United States, 40% of waterways—from rivers to brooks—are unsuitable for fishing, bathing or drinking. In developing countries, 90% of sewage is dumped—untreated—into bodies of water. 

* By 2025, two-thirds of the world will live under conditions of water scarcity. (International Water Management Institute)

Post a Comment