The preciousness of water

October 15, 2010

Today is the annual Blog Action Day, this year focused on water.  Take a few minutes with me to focus on this important issue.

In some ways I’ve had water conservation as a recurring theme for the past few decades of my life.   Early on in my professional career I was the executive director of the Council of Great Lakes Governors.  I focused on among other issues, the 20% of the fresh surface water that the U.S. Great Lakes comprise (for readers of this blog who may not be aware of it, there is a also a Great Lakes region in Africa). We looked at quality issues as well as quantity ones (including possible diversions that could be requested).  We worked hard to educate people about the preciousness of water in a region that takes it for granted.   Flashing forward a few years, I now have a house that has as its primary water source filtered rain water which we have to carefully conserve, and which has proven to be another example of the effects of ‘acid rain .  My children have learned first hand the lessons of how precious water can be.

The preciousness of water, a stark reality for much of the world, is a hard concept to grasp for others.  Here is a very enlightening map that shows that billons of people worldwide on all continents are at  risk of ‘water insecurity’ due to scarcity or pollution. Also take a minute to read the useful analysis of the map in the article.

What are some of the things we can do to preserve these precious (and finite) water sources for future generations?

1. Conservation Starts at Home: The average person uses 465 liters of water per day. Find out how much you use: For U.S. and other countries calculator using gallons.  For countries using litres and kilograms use this calculator.  You will find even the questions illustrative.

2. Drop the Bottle The US, Mexico and China lead the world in bottled water consumption, with people in the US drinking an average of 200 bottles of water per person each year. Over 17 million barrels of oil are needed to manufacture those water bottles, 86 percent of which will never be recycled. Many communities now have programs to ban bottled water.  Look at your individual, family and community habits and guidelines and see what you can do to help.

3. Technology for Good: Do you want to measure how much water it took to make your favorite foods? There’s an app for that too!