Remember when during the lockdown Italy stopped the boats from bringing sediments to the surface? When the canals in Venice were so clear for the first time in decades, that fish and dolphins were seen under the normally murky water?
A lot of people called that nature’s way of hitting the reset button on us. I called it a friendly reminder to take care of the environment we live in. Water is one of the most essential resources humans need to survive. I believe this is no brand new information, is it? But do we need another lockdown to see the dolphins again?
It is a well-known fact that water is essential for life. The human body is made up of approximately 60% water, and without it, we would quickly become dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to a number of health problems, including shock and organ failure. In fact, science has shown that most people can only survive without water for 3-4 days.
This makes it all the more shocking that billions of people around the world do not have access to clean drinking water. While there are many factors that contribute to this problem, it is clear that something needs to be done to ensure that everyone has access to this vital resource. With over two-thirds of the world’s population projected to live in water-stressed areas by 2025, the time to act is now.
What We Know
Water covers 70% of our planet, so we’re tricked into thinking there will always be plenty of it. However, freshwater – the one we drink, bathe in, and irrigate our farm fields with is not so plentiful. Only 3% of the world’s water is freshwater, and two-thirds of that is tucked away in frozen glaciers or otherwise unavailable for our use.
97% of the earth’s water is found in the oceans so it’s either too salty for drinking, growing crops, or for most industrial uses except cooling.
The lack of clean water and adequate sanitation is a global problem. According to the World Health Organization, some 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to clean water, and a total of 2.7 billion find water scarce for at least one month of the year. Inadequate sanitation is also a problem for 2.4 billion people—they are exposed to diseases, such as cholera and typhoid fever, and other water-borne illnesses.
Two million people, mostly children, die each year from diarrheal diseases alone. More than 800 children under age 5 die every day from diarrhea caused by contaminated water, poor sanitation, and unsafe hygiene.
What We Often Forget
1. Access to clean drinking water is essential for our health
Could you imagine going through a pandemic without water? Unimaginable, right?
As Global Citizen notes, WHO and the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 2020 about 1.8. a billion patients face a higher risk of COVID-19 infection and other diseases due to the lack of basic water and sanitation services at health services. For some children out there having access to clean water is a privilege.
Billions are spent every year, trying to unlock new water sources, yet so many people still lack access. On the other hand, climate change is also altering patterns of weather and water around the world, causing shortages and droughts in some areas and floods in others.
2. Clean water changes everything
Besides being a necessity for our health, clean water is vital for the economy too.
Well, economic sectors like manufacturing, farming, tourism, recreation, and energy production need clean water to function and flourish. So, the economy does depend a lot on clean water.
Investing in sanitation and water improvements leads to various direct and indirect economic benefits:
- By reducing direct and indirect health costs: Hygiene and sanitation are among the most cost-effective public health interventions.
- By saving time: People without toilets or taps at home spend a lot of time each day queuing up for public toilets or seeking secluded spots for open defecation, or for collecting water.
- By gaining productivity: Improved access to water and sanitation could lead to a large increase in productivity in developing countries, with potential for rising household incomes and economic growth.
- By protecting investments in improved water supply: Poor sanitation can limit the impact of drinking water quality improvements.
- By safeguarding water resources: Water resources are an important productive asset.
Based on Water, Universal access to basic water and sanitation would result in $18.5 billion in economic benefits each year from avoided deaths alone.
Every $1 invested in water and sanitation provides a $4 economic return from lower health costs, more productivity, and fewer premature deaths.
What We Should Remember
‘Children of a culture born in a water-rich environment, we have never really learned how important water is to us. We understand it, but we do not respect it.”
~ William Ashworth
Why should we save water?
- People use water faster than the planet can replenish it
- For the fish and animals
- Using water wisely saves energy and money
How can you help the water crisis?
- Turn off the taps. Leaving a tap running while brushing teeth use 6 liters of water a minute.
- Boil what you need, shower with less, save up your dirty clothes, time your gardening, catch rainwater, and check pipes for leaks.
- Get a RO water filter: Buildup from unfiltered water can slow down an appliance and cause it to use more energy. You won’t only be saving money on gas bills, it also helps the environment by reducing the pollution from energy generation.
- Using less water keeps more in our ecosystems and helps to keep wetland habitats topped up for animals like otters, water voles, herons, and fish.
We are still recovering from a pandemic, war, and an ecological crisis that affects not just us, but many species of plants and animals all over the world.
There are communities that would benefit immensely from something like cleaning water. There is no wonder we feel the effects of climate change first via our freshwater supply. We need to make every drop count.
In industries, water can be saved by adopting techniques to reuse and recycle water. In the agricultural field, water can be saved by adopting modern methods of harvesting and using sprinklers. This way, water will lead to a better tomorrow for the coming generation.
So, let’s leave this planet better than we found it.