Over 3 million people die due to a lack of clean water.
In Western society, clean water is one of those attributes that we take for granted. Whether it we access that water through private wells that are a hundred feet deep or via the city water system, we have clean water at every tap.
In some areas, there are drought concerns. This translates into a higher price for water and mandatory rotation schedules for outside use of water (such as watering the lawn or washing the car). In these communities, residents will be in tune to the preciousness of fresh water.
There is some thought that more communities should regard water with the same level of reverence as these drought-stricken communities.
As global warming increases, the risk of losing access to clean water sources also increased. In most communities, just a few summers without adequate rain would spark a massive drought.
Additionally, massive storm situations such as hurricanes can bring salt water inland and contaminate the existing sources of water (and the related infrastructure) leaving it nonoperational.
And, all of the water processing — both in the cleaning before use and the treatment of sewage – requires energy. Reducing water use also reduces our energy use.
However, our consideration of water conservation needs to go beyond simply turning the water off while we brush our teeth and shave (although those are good practices.)
Many consumer products require large amounts of water in their production. This article discusses this “hidden cost of water” in depth.
For example, by some calculation, it requires 2,400 gallons of water to produce just one pound of meat. This takes into account the water needed to grow crops to feed the livestock. Then you have the water that the livestock uses. And then you also have the water used during the processing of the meat.
It adds up quickly.
Coffee, for example, should be a pretty low user of water, right? It turns out that one gallon of coffee may use over 1,000 gallons of water to make one gallon of coffee. Ironically, coffee beans are often grown in communities where clean water is in scarce supply.
When it comes to your evening beverage, it turns out that it is better for the environment to go with beer. It only needs about 300 gallons of water per gallon of beer. Wine, with all of the grapes required, takes over 800 gallons. Once again, we often see grapes grown in the coveted Northern California space which is often a drought-stricken area.
While it is impossible to escape these hidden costs of water — especially if you choose a healthy lifestyle rich in fruits and vegetables — it is important to be conscious of them.
If California is suffering a drought, is it possible to purchase more of our vegetables from local sources in our water-rich community?If enough educated people begin shifting their purchasing decisions, it can help change the pressure on the environment.
Additionally, we need more and better sources of machinery for maintaining clean water. Developments in these areas of desalination and low energy filtration will ensure that our future generations can meet their demand.
The main point of this article is to highlight that any given community is always just one small disaster away from experiencing a lack of clean water.
Water education is an essential skill that should be proactive. Arrange a tour at your local water supply, and get a first-hand view of your community’s current water condition.