It may sound strange but it is vital that mankind starts to reduce their water consumption. It sounds strange because as most people know 7/10 of the earth’s surface is covered in water, and the amount of water present in the earth’s water cycle remains fairly constant. The problem is that only about a small percentage of water is actually in a useable state, the majority being the saltwater of the ocean or in the polar icecaps.
More and more pressure is being placed on the useable water, the water stored in underground aquifers and in freshwater lakes, rivers and reservoirs. Increasing worldwide populations require fresh water to drink, agriculture uses huge volumes, and whilst industrialisation continues globally so more and more water is used in manufacturing processes. The ongoing trend suggests that in the very near future more and more people will suffer from water shortages, not just the few days of a drought in a hot summer, but long term shortages.
The major burden for cutting water consumption needs to be placed on industries, and indeed in many countries there are both incentives and fines in place to promote more efficient usage of water. This if course an area where governments play an active and vital role.
Governments also have a role to play in the development of new technology and the more efficient usage of existing water supplies. Consider the possibilities of energy efficient and cheap desalinisation programs. Turning salt water into freshwater would allow everyone and every country to have sufficient water for their living, agricultural and industrial needs.
Of course, most people will have absolutely no influence on government policy or the efficiencies of big businesses, but everyone has an influence in their own personal usage of water. To live man requires about 30 litres of water each day, although those in developed countries use several times this amount of water.
Consider how much water is wasted simply through dripping taps or leaks in pipe works. Often simple and easy to fix, the water savings can be as much as people in the developing world have access to every day.
A great deal of water is wasted in plain sight though. In the garden large volumes of water are used to water lawns and bedding areas. Plants and lawns though often need less watering than people would assume. The amount of water required can also be reduced simply by adding mulch to the ground to help in the retention of water. Less water will also be needed by lawns if the grass is allowed to grow slightly longer than the normal closely cut look.
Less of the household water will be used outdoors though if rainwater is stored and reused. This is something that is becoming more popular and is helped with water butts that can be connected to downpipes.
In the home though, there are also ways to cut down on water consumption. The dishwasher and washing machine are both incredibly thirsty when it comes to water. To make the most efficient usage of the appliances though it is necessary to only use them when they have full loads. A full load uses far less water in both cases than two half loads washed separately.
Some major savings on water consumption can also be made if short showers are taken instead of baths, as a normal shower uses only a fraction of the water used in filling a bath. At other times though, water should not be allowed to run. A running tap when used for brushing teeth, or when seeking out hot or cold water is simply allowing water to drain away unused. A tumbler of water when brushing teeth will suffice, whilst cold water can be obtained by putting a jug of water in the fridge. Hot water is slightly trickier but for a small outlay of money a water heater can allow for instant hot water to come out of the tap.
Where possible water should be recycled within the home, and much of the water in a home, even after it has been used, can still be used to water plants. Many modern home designers are starting to incorporate methods of recycling water within the home. Brown water, the water from toilets, goes straight to the sewage works, but other clean water is reused where appropriate. Reusing water where possible will help to save on precious freshwater, and is something that is being looked at on larger scales. .
Whilst larger volumes of water are used by industries, each individual can in their own right help to reduce freshwater usage with some simple steps around the home.