How do Individual Conservation Efforts Affect Worldwide Availability of Drinking Water

The impact one individual has upon the water resources of our earth may be hard for many to comprehend. We calculate the surface of the world as seventy-five percent water, and think our resources are infinite. We view the earth from space, and see it filled with blue oceans, and think it’s impossible to ever run out of water. However, our vast blue planet only contains about 2.8% of fresh water. Of the 2.8% of fresh water on our planet, about 69% is frozen in Arctic and Antarctic ice.

Our supply of fresh water is small compared to worldwide demand. As we pollute our current water resources, we deplete the supply, but the demand grows greater every year. By 2030, 47% of the world’s population will live in areas with stressed water resources. The time to conserve our fresh water supply is now.

People often doubt that the few, simple things they do to conserve water will ever affect the worldwide availability of drinking water. One person on average causes a negative impact of hundreds of gallons of water every week. What if you’re able to take a few simple actions that can save half your consumption of water, will it help the planet?

Let’s put this in perspective by using a study that was conducted by the Department of Transportation called the Summary of Cruise Ship Waste Streams. They estimated that a single cruise ship, with 3,000 passengers and crew, in one week, will pollute our ocean waters with; 210,000 gallons of sewage; and one million gallons of gray water (waste water from sinks, showers, and laundries).

If a single cruise ship can have such a negative impact on our planet, what impact would a city of 300,000 have? Ever individual, in every city, as a collective can reduce their stream of sewage, and gray water, and protect our water for future generations.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has several publications to show ways the average person can conserve water use, and reduce waste. Individuals can also donate to organizations that will help developing countries provide clean drinking water and sanitation. It’s estimated that 2.2 million people die each year from diseases related to contaminated drinking water. We all have the power to make a positive impact on our worldwide supply of fresh water, with our actions and our money.

Even changing our diets can conserve water. American beef producers use 2,500 gallons of water to produce just one pound of beef. If every American reduced or eliminated their demand for beef, we would all be healthier, and would save our water supply. A simple backyard garden will also reduce agricultural demands, along with the waste and contamination of water associated with commercial farming.

One individual can change the world with conservation efforts, financial contributions, educating others, and supporting positive environmental policies. Single drops of water can collectively form an ocean, and in the same way individuals can collectively protect our planet’s water.


UN World Water Development Report – Water for People, Water for Life (2003)
2,500 Gallons All Wet? by John Robbins, of and author of Diet For A New America.