We are using too much water

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It’s something most of us take for granted, and something we all need. Since Canada is one of the richest fresh-water suppliers in the world, we haven’t had to worry too much about it.

But as the climate is changing and natural disasters are increasing, water supply should be on everyone’s mind.

What is the problem?

In Africa, for example, safe water is a rarity. More than one-third of Africa’s population, 300 million people, lack safe water supply.

Here are some quick facts about water supply worldwide: 

  • More than 2 billion people rely on wells for clean water. 
  • Water poverty affects 2 million people in North America. 
  • Agriculture accounts for around 70 percent of freshwater drought.
  • About 4.5 billion people globally already live within 50 kilometres of a water source that is running dry or polluted. 

What does this mean to you?

The world does not have a never-ending water supply. Earth has only 2.5 percent of fresh drinking water and only 1 percent of that is accessible, the rest is in ice.

Reduced freshwater accessibility is a huge issue for many people. Our freshwater supply is drying up, quickly. 

Our ice caps are melting, although this may seem great for freshwater supply, it comes with a decrease to one of our main freshwater sources – snow. 

As snow melts, it runs off into many of our rivers and lakes. In Canada, these are critically important for our freshwater resources. However, as the climate warms, droughts increase and freshwater sources are dried up.

Over the past forty years, the world’s population has doubled and our water consumption has quadrupled.

By 2025, it is estimated that 1.8 billion people will live in areas plagued by water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world will live in water-stressed regions.

Future solutions

As scary as all these numbers sound, it’s not all bad. Many people are working together to find realistic solutions to these problems. 

Small things, like requiring municipal land to have stormwater detention ponds that hold run-water from rooftops and parking lots, could drastically increase freshwater supply.

Bioswales is a promising development in stormwater management among urban areas. Bioswales are detention basins located along the street, filled with sandy soil and planted with grasses that slow the runoff and filter it before it goes to a river. 

A Bioswale under construction, the one in the background is finished.

Another promising solution is desalinating seawater. Areas like Saudi Arabia are using renewable energy to desalinate ocean water with products like the Elemental Water Maker.

What can we do?

As fantastic and essential as these big global solutions are, there are several ways you can make a difference at home. 

Simply being educated on the Global Water Crisis issue and helping to educate others is a great first step. 

Another thing you can do is supporting organizations that provide clean water to those in need. Some of these organizations include Charity Water, Water.org, Lifewater International, WaterLex, Save The Water, and the World Water Council. 

At home, you can build a rain garden. A rain garden is a feature that captures water runoff using berms, mulch, and other plants. It keeps water on land and helps it infiltrate into the soil.

The best thing you can do, though, is to reduce your household’s water consumption.

Shortening your shower, turning the sink off while you brush your teeth, using water-saving fixtures and appliances can contribute astronomically.

Most people don’t think about how much water their household uses. The average Canadian family uses 300 gallons of water a day. Showers use about 20 gallons, a full tub is 36 gallons, flushing a toilet is 3 gallons, and a dishwasher can use about 4-10 gallons. 

So, how could you cut back? As our world is changing, and it’s about time to change with it. No matter how small the efforts are, they are still efforts and they still matter.