For many, summer means vacation from school, family getaways, and hot, sunny weather. But for many areas of the country, summer means droughts, and an increased need for water awareness and water conservation. Water is essential to so many aspects of our lives, but because of this, we need to become more educated about water conservation.
Why Is Water Conservation Necessary?
“Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”
Did you know that 71% of the Earth is covered by water, but only 2.5% of that consists of freshwater? Did you know that, of that small amount of freshwater, only 1.2% of it consists of surface water – the water that is most readily available for use? Think of it this way: if all the Earth’s water could be represented by a 5-gallon jug of water – the kind used in an office water cooler – then only 0.125 gallons of that water would be freshwater. That’s equivalent to one 16-oz bottle of water out of a 5-gallon jug. Of that 0.125 gallons of freshwater, only 0.0015 gallons would be surface water. That’s equivalent to 0.192 ounces – less than 1 teaspoon of water!
Picture a water cooler, with a full, 5-gallon jug of water. Now hold up 1 teaspoon of water next to it. Can you see the vast difference in what is available, versus what is actually usable? Water – clean, potable water, is truly a precious and limited resource.
As of May 2022, the United Nations has estimated the global population to be 7.9 billion people. That means that 7.9 billion people all rely on the 1.2% available of the 2.5% of the world’s water supply that is relatively safe for humans to consume. And because that fresh water supply isn’t distributed equally around the world, some people live in regions with an overabundance of available water, while others live in regions of perpetual drought and water scarcity.
Freshwater, that most precious and finite resource, is already stressed to support human life, and it will only be stressed further as the global population rises. Water conservation is necessary because of how limited this essential resource is, now and in the future.
What Factors Contribute to Water Usage?
Human population growth is the most obvious contributing factor toward freshwater usage, but climate change is also a contributing factor – as temperatures rise in certain regions, water sources become depleted much more quickly. Population growth also correlates to increased agricultural and manufacturing growth, both of which use vast amounts of water for operation.
Think about your local neighborhood: what do people use water for outside of drinking, showering, and bathing? Are there lawns, gardens, and decorative plants that require regular watering? Are there swimming pools or hot tubs that require large amounts of water to maintain?
What about your town or city? Is it home to golf courses and country clubs? Are there many community pools, parks, and “splash pads”? How much decorative greenery is used by the many neighborhoods and businesses?
Now, think about how much water is available nearby. Is your town near any lakes or rivers? Do you live in an area that experiences plenty of rain or an area that is mostly dry? Does your town or region contribute to water supplies or drain from water supplies?
For people who live in dry, arid areas, water conservation may already be part of everyday life. But do those who live in more temperate and rainy areas think about water conservation and water waste?
What Are the Key Points of Water Conservation?
- The primary aim of water conservation is to encourage the efficient and effective use of water resources. Reducing unnecessary water usage can help ensure that enough freshwater exists for current and future populations. The ultimate goal of water conservation is to ensure that less water is taken from the ecosystem than is replaced naturally.
- The secondary goal is to conserve the energy that is used in pumping, delivering, and treating water; water treatment in particular uses energy both to treat the water before it is delivered to homes and businesses, and to treat wastewater before it is returned to the ecosystem.
- The third main goal of water conservation is to protect freshwater habitats, not just for wildlife, but to ensure the quality of water available in the environment. Ensuring that water sources remain is only half the equation; the other half is to ensure that the water sources are clean enough to be suitable for consumption. A freshwater lake is of no use if it is so polluted that it is hazardous to human health.
Start to Think About Water Conservation
A good first step toward water conservation is to think about it. Think about all the water you use daily: for drinking, for showering or bathing, for washing clothes, for cleaning dishes, for cooking, for flushing toilets, for yard care, for pets, and more. Being conscious of your water consumption is a good start toward curbing any water waste in your life and your household. Help the others in your life think about their water usage, and whether they are being conscientious when it comes to water consumption. When you understand the issue of water conservation, and when you start to think about the subject, you make progress toward using water more responsibly.
- “45+ Ways to Conserve Water in the Home and Yard.” Eartheasy. Last accessed May 27, 2022. https://learn.eartheasy.com/guides/45-ways-to-conserve-water-in-the-home-and-yard/
- “How to Conserve Water.” The Wildlife Trusts. Last accessed May 27, 2022. https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/actions/how-conserve-water
- “National Current Conditions.” National Integrated Drought Information System. Last updated May 24, 2022. https://www.drought.gov/current-conditions
- “Understanding the Importance of Water Conservation.” MasterClass. March 2, 2022. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/water-conservation-explained
- “Water Conservation.” Wikipedia. Last updated March 24, 2022. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_conservation
- “Water Conservation: It All Starts with You.” Washington State Department of Ecology. Last accessed May 27, 2022. https://ecology.wa.gov/Issues-and-local-projects/Education-training/What-you-can-do/Water-conservation