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Essay: How can we decrease our use of water?

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  • Published: 15 October 2019*
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Question: Water is probably one of the most valuable resources known to all biotic factors. We use it everyday and it is quite literally a part of us. However, the Earth’s supply of water is rapidly declining and much of it is being rendered unusable due to pollution and/or various factors. The need for water is never-ending but it is a limited resource, so how will we continue to sustain life if the world’s population is going to continue to increase? Global warming is also a factor we need to consider as well. The Earth has a limited water source and much of it comes from glaciers and icebergs that are melting. We need to protect our water supply, and it is necessary for life, what factors do we need to take into consideration in order to decrease our use of water as a nation?

The average Canadian consumes approximately 300L of water a day, compared to the average African citizen, who can only access about 20L a day. As Canadians in a first world country, water is easily accessible through taps, showers, even toilets. This leads Canada to be one of the top consumers of water per capita. When people have easy access to something, it is easy to take it for granted, and not think about if you actually NEED the resource.

SOME Factors to Take Into Consideration

Water is a limited resource and it is rapidly disappearing. But, why? Well, there are many things contributors to this issue. A large portion of the human population lives in urban areas as of 2017. Therefore, these areas require more water than rural areas, however, the aquifers underground are easily contaminated, especially after construction.

We also have take into consideration the quality of the water, dirtier water requires more treatment, whereas cleaner water would require less. This doesn’t matter much though since our drinking water is sent to water treatment plants that perform the same treatment to the water.

The climate of the Earth is another thing we must think about. Ever since technology has risen, the Earth’s temperature has risen as well, more so than anticipated. This is of importance because the temperature directly affects the water the water cycle, for example evaporation, condensation, deposition etc. Obviously there are more things to take into consideration, however these are the ones we are largely focusing on.

Water Pollution

Water pollution is a very real and dangerous thing. It can affect the quality of the water we use and also means it will be much more expensive to clean the dirtier water, if it is even able to be cleaned. A large contributor to water pollution the industrial world. Many industrial companies use freshwater as a way to expel waste, and many harmful chemicals enter waterways because of these large corporations. Another large contributor to water pollution is marine dumping. Marine dumping is when household garbage is dumped into our bodies of water. Many of the items dumped take centuries to decompose. The majority of items dumped are often referred to as marine debris, which are any manmade solid that enters the water in form of littering.

Another form of waste entering our waterways is sewage. Although most first world countries have ways of sending waste from the toilet to treatment plants, but even after it is treated, where is the waste sent? Often times the waste from sewage treatment plants will be sent untreated into seas. According to the article “12 Main Causes of Water Pollution.” Essays, Research Papers and Articles on Environmental Pollution, published 23 July 2016 “Sometimes sewage waste is pumped untreated into the sea. Until the early 1990s, around 5 million tons of sewage was dumped by barge from New York City each year. The population of Britain produces around 300 million gallons of sewage every day, some of it still pumped untreated into the sea through long pipes. The new river that crosses the border from Mexico into California carries with it 20—25 million gallons (76—95 million litres) of raw sewage each day.” Although much of this waste is actually water, the waste disposed potentially could carry diseases, which makes the water essentially useless to humans.

Even if we do try to clean this water, it would require more intense treatment, which would then cost the government more money to clean, which may be better spent on preventing waste from being dumped into our water supply. However even then, it cannot be guaranteed safe for drinking.

Global Warming

At first glance, one might assume that the Earth has plenty of water, right? Technically, this may be true, however 97% of this water is salt water, and less than 3% is freshwater, which comes mainly from glaciers and icebergs. However, with global warming and climate change happening at an unprecedented rate, these large bodies of ice are melting quicker than expected. According to the article “Sea Level Rise.” published on National Geographic on the 7th April 2017, “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says we can expect the oceans to rise between 11 and 38 inches (28 to 98 centimeters) by 2100, enough to swamp many of the cities along the U.S. East Coast.” which shows how global warming is affecting the Earth’s freshwater supply by melting the supply (the icebergs/glaciers) and merging it with the salt water, rendering it undrinkable, which greatly diminishes a large part of the world’s freshwater supply.

Along with glaciers melting, global warming could also mean that since the air gets warmer, the space between water particles would expand and occupy more space; if it gets hot off enough for long enough, some of the water may evaporate into the hotter air. However evaporation drives the surface to atmosphere to surface part of the water cycle. A lot of this water goes back into the oceans which makes sense since water covers most of the Earth’s surface, and around 10% falls back onto land as precipitation.

Urban Development

As the human population grows, as does urban development. Urbanization means more construction, which then leads to more need for housing, which is why urbanization can be helpful, but in actuality, it can be very harmful to the aquifers they may be building on or near. For this reason exactly, is why different governments have enforced certain laws to protect our groundwater sources. For example, under the ‘Water Sustainability Act’ the Groundwater Protection Regulation, “Regulates minimum standards for well construction, maintenance, deactivation and decommissioning” and “Recognizes the types of qualified people certified to drill wells, install well pumps and perform related services”. This is slightly ironic because much of the water that goes to cities is from rural areas.

How we will Conserve Water

The issue of how to conserve water is a very broad topic. As human beings, we require water to survive. If we have no access to water, we will become dehydrated and will soon after perish. However that doesn’t mean we need to continue using the excessive amounts of water we currently use.

An easy example of this our toilets. Older toilets can use an average of around 5.25 gallons of water per flush, whereas the federal government now specifies that new toilets must use under 1.6 gallons of water per flush, certain more efficient toilets can use up to 1.28 gallons.

It’s also the same with our showerheads. Low flow shower heads conserve water depending on the showerhead that you buy, some high efficiency showerheads can use as little as 0.5 gallons a minutes. Using these methods, we can save both money and water. But how can we enforce these tactics? Not everyone is willing to buy and switch toilets or showerheads. If the government were serious about regulating the flow of showerheads and toilets, perhaps they could use some of the taxes we pay to actually install the water conserving showerheads and toilets. It’s a small price to pay considering The City of Whitehorse gave $1.3 million dollars to a struggling ski lodge, on top of the $1.6 million dollars the city gave a year before for a ski lift. Surely these funds could be better directed towards conserving water, a resource that once it is gone, we cannot get back; not just on people sliding down mountains on two sticks? Take California for example, when the drought hit, many lengths were taken to try to reduce the amount of water they used because they had very limited groundwater. Many restaurants only gave patrons water if it was requested, and even then they had the right to refuse to give them water or less than normal on account of the drought.

Although human beings need water, we can still limit the amount of water that we consume. Only drinking water when you are thirsty; rather than boiling foods, fry them; rather than watering your plants in the afternoon, try watering them at night, when there will be the least evaporation. Simple things we can all do to conserve water, yet many people don’t. Why? According to several online forums, an average of 58% of voters voted that they simply do not care about conserving water. This is unsettling at the least. The people who don’t care need to be made aware of the actual threat this is. The topic in general is not spoken of very much, it’s not something that can just come up in regular conversation, so it is not easy to raise awareness of the topic. Although, if you see someone wasting water, you can always remind them to be wiser in how they use the finite resource, and that might be a good time to educate them.

One of probably the most important ways to protect and conserve water is to educate YOURSELF on the topic. Go on websites, read books,etc. This will all ultimately be worth it because after all, you can’t educate others whilst you yourself are uneducated.

Bibliography

  • https://www.statista.com/statistics/263156/water-consumption-in-selected-countries/
  • http://www.environmentalpollution.in/water-pollution/12-main-causes-of-water-pollution/1304
  • http://chartsbin.com/view/1455
  • http://enviropol.com/index.php/effects-of-water-pollution
  • http://www.gracelinks.org/2380/the-impact-of-climate-change-on-water-resources
  • http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/takingcharge.html
  • https://www.coastal.ca.gov/nps/watercyclefacts.pdf
  • https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/sea-level-rise/
  • https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/air-land-water/water/laws-rules/groundwater-protection-regulation
  • https://borgenproject.org/5-ways-to-conserve-water/
  • http://www.portapotty.net/water-conservation/

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