When you see photographs of Earth taken from space, water seems abundant. Most of that water, though, can’t be used for drinking or for growing crops. In fact, only 1 percent of all the water on the planet can be used to support human life. Most of the Earth’s water is undrinkable salt water. Even some of the fresh water is unavailable for our use because it’s frozen solid.
In the last century, the world’s population tripled, and water usage by individuals increased six fold. As the population continues to rise, the need for sufficient supplies of freshwater will become more urgent, and competition for the available water is likely to increase
The United Nations estimates that nearly one-third of the world’s population will be facing water shortages by the year 2025. Without enough water, diseases will spread more easily, and less food can be grown.
Competition over water supplies can lead to local or international conflicts and possibly war.
Even in places where fresh water usually remains abundant, conserving water makes us better prepared for unexpected emergencies. Water conservation also saves money for both individual families and the community as a whole.
How Much Water Do We Use?
Every day, people use 10 billion tons of freshwater worldwide. Water usage varies widely by country, with the United States using the most water per capita. According to the EPA, Americans use an average of 88 gallons of water every day per person in their homes.
Simple Steps To Use Water More Effectively
Small changes in your daily habits can create big savings in water usage:
- Turn off the water when you brush your teeth. All that running water adds up, probably more than you think. This simple step can save more than 200 gallons of water per month.
- Takes showers instead of baths. A bath can use up to seven times more water than a shower. Keep your showers short — do your daydreaming elsewhere.
- Wait until the dishwasher is full before you run it.
- Avoid using a hose when you have alternatives. You can use a sponge and bucket to wash your car and a broom to sweep your driveway.
- Don’t water your yard under a hot midday sun when most of the water will be lost to evaporation. Early mornings and evenings are better.
Repairs and smart purchases can turn yourhome into a water-conserving powerhouse:
- Be diligent about fixing leaky toilets. A toilet leak can waste as much as 200 gallons a day, the equivalent of 50 flushes. Ouch!
- Install low-ow shower heads and water-saving aerators for your faucets. Using water-conserving devices can reduce your water usage by at least 20 percent and can save an average of $380 annually per family.
Sufficient water supplies are crucial not only for individual use — for drinking, cooking, washing and so on — but also for industry and agriculture. Without conservation, the planet may be facing a crisis unlike any seen before. Many steps that can be taken to conserve water are simple and can be started right now.