Friday, September 17, 2010



Fresh water supplies are a huge concern for both industrialized and developing countries, and the lowering of water reserves is an alarming environmental issue throughout the world.

While water covers 71 percent of the Earth's surface, less than 3% of that water is fresh water, and can be considered as usable drinking water. Because of global warming, overpopulation, and decades of abuse of water, there just isn’t enough to go around. The sectors of society that dominate in water use are agriculture, chiefly the meat, cotton, and coffee industries; large industries especially those involving metals; and recreation, principally that used to maintain hotels, resorts and golf courses.

The consequence of all this water consumption is a growing process of draught and desertification. Water is scarce in many areas and becoming increasingly expensive as a resource for the general population. At the same time, corporations are converting what's left of our water into bottled water for profit. The situation is so dreadful that many predict that, over the next few decades, water will cease to be considered a basic human right, and will be traded and commercialized just as other natural resources, like our forests and oil, are now.

Today, more than one sixth of the world’s population, 1.1 billion people do not have access to any safe drinking water. Then, consider that the average person in the U. S. uses between 100 and 250 gallons of water a day, all of which comes from safe water supplies. How ever you look at it, that's an unsustainable amount of water being used in the U.S. Unsustainable in this context means that there is no way that so much water consumption can be projected into the future, what with national population growth and dwindling supplies.

Experts say that only a small fraction of the total being used by U.S. people would be sufficient, if water saving measures were taken at the household level. Per capita residential water use in the United States is more than four times higher than that in England and five times higher than in Germany. (I suppose part of this problem is the existence of so many “McMansions” in the U.S.)

So, what should the average person or average household do to face up to this terrible threat?

First, it's necessary to study what's happening to the water on this planet and understand the reasons for its disappearance. That way we will be able to consider what measures to take now and be able to talk to other people about the situation. We also must be ready, at some point, to get actively involved and help mobilize our neighbors to fight for our public water supplies.

Next take steps to use less water at home.

Households can reduce their domestic water use, also called direct water usage, by doing these things:

- Be sure you have no leaks in your home. (According to some experts, as many as half of U.S. homes have a slow water leak.)

- Install water saving toilets and showerheads, and close the faucet when you brush your teeth.(Do you really need to flush every time you urinate? Can you limit your showers to three minutes? Can your children be bathed together --with supervision, of course?

- Don’t wash clothes in the washer or dishes in the dishwasher until you have a full load. If you wash dishes by hand, keep a pan of sudsy water and soap up all the dishes before turning on the rinse water.

- When you boil vegetables or eggs, don't throw out the water. There are valuable vitamins and minerals in that water. Use it for soups and stews, baking bread, or making hot cereal.

- Save what fresh water we have left by never throwing medicines, paints, harsh chemicals, or petroleum products down the drain or into the sewer system.

- Wash your car with one bucket of water.

- Sweep your front entry, driveway or deck – don't do any washing of these areas

- Build a rock garden to fill up part of your lawn or install landscaping that does not require lots of water, like ground cover plants. A more radical option would be to remove all your lawn and put in a totally natural landscape.

- Harvest rainwater and install a rainwater storage container, also called a cistern. There are 250,000 cisterns in use in the U. S., today. There need to be tens of thousands more in the next few years. Cistern water, without treatment, is considered to be unsafe for drinking, cooking, and tooth brushing, but it can be used in the garden or for other household cleaning purposes.

- Plant trees wherever you can in your yard, for shade, for beauty or just for holding water in the soil. There are trees for all spaces – you don't need a big yard to have a tree or two. Ask an expert in your area about indigenous trees (those that grow wild in your area) that need less water and space.

- Find other uses -- such as for watering plants, washing cars, etc. -- for once-used water from bathing, clothes washing and bathroom sinks.

The indirect water usage of homes is that which deals with the products purchased and consumed by household members. The indirect use of water is usually much greater than the direct one. One way households can lower their indirect water usage is by choosing different products that require less water as part of their growing, processing or manufacture. Here are some examples.

- Buy used cars, not new ones.

- Remodel older houses instead of buying new ones - unless the new ones are much smaller or much more efficient.

- Eat less meat or become vegetarian.

- Drink tea instead of coffee, or if you feel you must drink coffee, limit yourself to one or two cups per day. Better yet, drink a lot of plain water -- it's very good for you.

- Wear used clothing or wear your own for a few more years instead of buying new.

- Or at least, refrain from buying all-cotton clothes, since cotton is one of the greatest users of water.

Talk to your family members about the situation of water throughout the world. Tell your children that the resources we have today are God-given for our proper use and not for our sinful abuse. Begin the discussion by asking them how they think the earth will be in 50 years if everyone on earth -- or even if everyone in the U.S. -- uses water as they are doing today. Tell them about good stewardship of the earth and what that means to families now and to generations of families in the future. With the children’s help, think up ways that the family can save water and reward the children in some way, when they help conserve water.

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