How do Individual Conservation Efforts Affect Worldwide Availability of Drinking Water

Water. It is essential to the functions of the human body and to the functions of every day life, yet it is something most affluent citizens of the world take for granted each day. On average, North Americans use 400 liters of water every day (Human Development Report, 2006). That is almost 106 gallons! And the sad truth…the majority of this is just washed down a drain, without a second thought.

However, with the increased demand for water around the world and more of it being wasted, there is a major water crisis and it is not just a small town problem. With conservation efforts lacking, what was once a reusable resource is now a precious commodity. In developing countries like India, in order to preserve a semi-sanitary lifestyle, barrels are placed around residential areas to collect fresh rain water and thus prevent the public from water-born diseases commonly found in the city water supplies caused by residents defecating into them. Yet even this practice, as much fresh water it seems to be providing, is limited. “The rains are not coming at the proper time,” said a farmer in the Indian village of Kangahn, according to a recent New York Times article. If the cycle of water shortages keeps repeating itself, and if the average consumption of drinking water continues to rise 40% in the next 20 years (United National Environment Program), the world will dying faster of dehydration than starvation.

In order to prevent anymore waste of water , individuals must do their part. Although it might not seem like much, if every person reduces their shower time by four minutes, they save about 2500 gallons of water per year. Those gallons will then be able to go straight underdeveloped countries and areas like India and be made available to those who usually suffer because of the low quality of the water that usually flows through their villages, if it does at all. So a little really does go along way.

Conserving water improves quality of life across the board. Whether it means giving underprivileged citizens something as simple as fresh drinking water or saving money on utility bills due to water-saving appliances, every little bit helps. Anyone can do it; it just takes a little thought and planning. For instance, some easy ways to conserve each day both in and outside the home are:

– wash only full loads of laundry in your washer and full loads of dishes in your dishwasher; replace older ones if possible, older washers use 50% less water and energy per load

– when gardening, choose plants that require less maintenance and less watering, perhaps some native plants

– check faucets and pipes for leaks and drips and fix any immediately; a small drip can waste up to 20 gallons of water per day

– avoid flushing trash, even a small amount, down the sink drain and/ or toilets; each time 5-7 gallons of water are wasted

– keep a close eye on the water bill, it can help to regulate water usage and saves money in the long run

The point is that if just one individual makes an effort to do the above tasks and others like recycling only 4 gallons of water each day, they can provide their community and the world with 1400 more gallons of water than if they had not recycled it. It is as simple as that. And it makes ordinary citizens into ecological superheroes.