It is hard to think about water scarcity (H2O) in Minnesota. Access to drinking water has never been a problem for us. When we think of water, images of vast lakes and swimming pools (with water slides) come to mind. Unfortunately, these images are not representative of the world’s water resources.
Water- More scarce than you think
Did you know that less than one percent of the Earth’s water is drinkable?1 When a person visualizes the oceans of the Earth, it is difficult to imagine water shortages. Although most of the Earth is abundant with water sources, they are not safe for human consumption. Moreover, many freshwater sources are becoming too depleted or contaminated to use 1.
Availability is decreasing
Currently, 750 million people do not have sufficient access to enough water 2. In Africa, children have to miss school to find water for their families 4. Water shortages contribute to a low quality of life where death is an increasing possibility. This problem is growing in other communities around the world as well. In ten years, most of the world’s population will struggle with water scarcity 3.
Access could come at a high price
From a world perspective, water is an extremely valuable resource. In the years to come, experts claim that it may be more valuable than gold or oil 5. The cost of drinkable water will be a burden for future generations. These costs, however, may be more than monetary.
According to the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon, the costs in the future should be considerable: “A shortage of water resources could spell increased conflicts in the future. Population growth will make the problem worse. So will climate change. As the global economy grows, so will its thirst. Many more conflicts lie just over the horizon.” 3
Water is still wasted
A problem with decreasing water resources is not enough people are aware of how they contribute to water waste. Did you know that reducing your shower time by one minute every day could save hundreds of gallons of water each month? In a Hazen Landscape Services blog, Top 25 Ways to Waste Water – Sacramento Landscape Contractor, I learned the most common ways that people waste water 6.
I think most water waste is not intentional. I feel that water waste occurs when people are not being mindful. When brushing my teeth, I used to leave the water running. Turning on the faucet was more of a subconscious act rather than an actual need to use water.
Another problem with decreasing water resources is not recognizing the need to conserve water— now! In Minnesota, it is easy to see why water conservation is not a priority. With drinking water readily available, it does not seem necessary to take action today. It seems that we could deal with a water shortage in the future. Perhaps, a new invention twenty years from now will create enough water for everyone.
Water conservation needs your attention now
Water scarcity is something that people need to deal with before it becomes a larger problem. It does not require any drastic actions like a “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown …” program. It does require a few simple actions that could make a big difference for the long-term sustainability of this planet.
In California, citizens are already thinking of water conservation. Their state has endured low rain and drought in recent years. To help citizens understand water conservation, they created an informative website. Through this website, I learned some simple ways to prevent water waste. Did you know that it is better to give a plant a dropped ice cube instead of throwing it in the sink 7? When it comes to water, attentiveness could help us make the most of our water resources. This will make a difference to the rest of the world and future generations that would like to enjoy life too.
1 Atkins, William Arthur, and Edward F. Vitzthum. Water Encyclopedia. http://www.waterencyclopedia.com/Da-En/Drinking-Water-and-Society.html
3 Lubin, Gus. 15 Depressing Facts about the Coming Water Crisis http://www.businessinsider.com/15-facts-about-the-coming-water-crisis-2010-3?op=1
4 Nossiter, Adam. Late for School After a Long Journey for a Drop to Drink May 21, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/22/world/africa/niger-children-miss-school-to-search-for-water.html?_r=1
5 West, Larry. Water Now More Valuable Than Oil? http://environment.about.com/od/globalwarming/a/waterinvesting.htm
6 Sacramento Suburban Water District. Top 25 Ways to Waste Water. http://www.hazenlandscape.com/blog/2014/05/05/top-25-ways-to-waste-water/
7 Save Our Water. http://saveourwater.com/what-you-should-know/