“The two defining issues of this century are both universal but felt local: the global water crisis and the resources boom.” ~ Jay Weatherill
Imagine being a girl who’s regular chores includes transportation of water from 10 km away. No matter whatever the circumstances are, she has to go for the water. You might be thinking and feeling how hard this life would be. But someone somewhere on this earth is living life like this.
From the very beginning of human civilization, humans have learned the importance of water in their life. But with time as our population has increased, our water requirements have also spiked. Which are somewhere pushing us into the water crisis. Let’s talk about the water crisis we all will face.
Distribution Of Water
To understand the water crisis, we first have to understand the distribution of water on this earth. Around 71% of water covers the earth’s surface, along with 29% covered by the land. If we further divided the 71% water, we will have 97% of saltwater and only 3% of freshwater. Further dividing more, only 0.1% of water is available for us to use and the other part is in the form of glaciers or snow.
69% of freshwater is in the form of glaciers, 30% is groundwater, and less than 1% is located in lakes, rivers, and swamps.
The lack of freshwater resources to meet the demand for freshwater is known as water crisis/ water scarcity.
According to some scientists, it is estimated that by 2025 more than 25% of the world’s population will not have access to fresh water. The water crisis is not a recent issue but people’s negligence and unawareness about conservation of water have made the water crisis much worse.
Just like the distribution of earth’s geography is not the same, so, the water resources are. That is why humanity is also facing the Water Crisis.
To know the level of the danger we are facing. Here’s are some facts about the water scarcity/ water crisis.
Facts About Water Crisis
1- 4 billion people live under conditions of severe water scarcity for least 1 month every year.
2- Around 500 million people in the world face severe water scarcity all year round.
3- In Africa, an average woman walks around 6 km every day to fetch 19 L of water.
4- By 2025, it is estimated that around 1.8 billion people will face an accurate water shortage.
5 – The average American consumes 1,207 cubic meters of water a year, as the USA is the largest consumer of water around the world.
We have seen the facts about the water Crisis but the question is geography is the only reason for water scarcity or is it due to human activities? Let’s find it out,
Reasons For The Water Crisis
1- Climate Change
Climate change has poured oil into the already scarce water. Due to the increase in climate change, there is a surge in global temperature. Because of this, we are encountering the rapid melting of glaciers and snow.
So, these water bodies are getting converted into dynamic water. With the increase in global temperature, it increases evaporation. And this evaporation increases the water droplets in the atmosphere that further traps heat and increases the global temperature. This phenomenon is called the positive feedback loop.
2- Poor Management
People in the world are living with a misconception of the abundance of water. So, they treat water as an invaluable resource. Due to this misconception, they waste the water without properly thinking about it. Every year, in the US, around 900 billion gallons of water being wasted through household leaks. Every time we brush our teeth, with an open tap, we are wasting 18 L of water. These smalls habits are increasing water consumption and so do the water Crisis.
3- Water Pollution
Industrial dumping of waste into water bodies is polluting the existed water reserves, eventually making the water unfavorable for drinking as well as for other household chores. Even in the rural areas, most of the water reserves are inaccessible or polluted either due to poor sanitation or lack of water treatment plants. Due to this, they have to travel kilometers to haul the freshwater for their survival.
4- Human Settlements
Humans have destroyed millions of marine ecosystems by the construction of dams and other hydroelectric projects. Due to the increase in population, demand for land has also increased. As to make more space water bodies are getting converted into the land. For example, Mexico City was built over a lake. Due to human settlements in the urban areas, groundwater sources are depleting faster and faster.
Uses of Freshwater
We have seen the reasons for the water Crisis but the question is where we are using the available freshwater that we have. People in developed countries generally use about 10 times more water daily than those in developing countries.
Let’s check out where we are utilizing our existing water.
It is estimated that around 69% of the water worldwide is used for agriculture. Even though we use a lot of water for agriculture but still we can’t meet the demand for food for everyone. This is because most of the food is fed to animals to meet the demand for meat. Meat is a wasteful use of water and produces a lot of greenhouse gases.
Around 22% of the water worldwide is used by industries for raw materials, power sources, or in any other form. The usage of water varies from industry to industry. But overall usage is less than agriculture. Industries also dump most of their waste into the water reserves leaving the water contaminated.
It is hard to believe but just 8% of the water worldwide is used in households. The household usage contains the water for drinking, regular household chores like cooking, bathing, etc. Even with the usage of 8% water, households waste millions of gallons of water.
How Can We Solve The Problem Of Water Scarcity?
1- Take the Stand
The solution lies in our daily activities. If every individual decides not to waste water then we will never run out of fresh water. The solution lies within us. Because we all know how government works and how their priority changes over time. So, reducing water usage is the best way an individual can do by own.
2- Change Your Diet
As most of the freshwater is used in agriculture to grow crops. Sometimes the crops need too much water for that region or those crops are fed to animals. Both activities are water wasting. It is hard to believe when the whole world is suffering from a water crisis, we are wasting water resources by eating meat or avocados as they both are water extensive food. So, another step we can take is eliminating the water extensive food from our diet.
3- Re-use Grey Water
Greywater is the water waste generated in households or buildings from streams without polluted contamination. Greywater term is used for that wastewater we can’t use for drinking purposes but can be utilized for other household chores.
The examples for greywater are discharged AC water and discharged RO water. The discharged AC water is not suitable for drinking but can be used for other work such as washing clothes, gardening, etc. Reusing greywater is another step to living a zero-waste lifestyle.
4- Other Ways
- Installing a Rain Water Harvesting system in households.
- Spreading Awareness
- Force Government to make strict laws on water.
In March of 2017, the Mayor of Cape Town officially announced Cape Town as a disaster area as they have less than 4 months to have access to water. They had 113 days left till day Day Zero (the day when a city officially cuts off water supplies and begins controlling water). After the declaration, a limit of 100 liters per person was set. But till the day, Cape Town hasn’t reached the zero-day yet. This happened due to the collective efforts of Cape Town citizens.
The people now know the importance of water. After the crisis, there is a steep decline in water usage per person. The overall water usage of Cape-Town has reduced to 50%. The fall in water usage led the City to postpone its estimate for “Day Zero”, and due to strong rains in June 2018, zero-day never happened. This happened because of the collective initiatives taken by Cape-Town citizens.
The Cape Town water crisis is the best example to demonstrate how individual participation can create a big impact.
Every day when you wake up, remember there is someone somewhere in the world who has already started a journey to the nearest water source. It’s time when we have to stop seeing water as granted instead we should see this as a resource that has the potential to start the new world war. If you want to stop the water war, you have to sacrifice a little. You have to converse.
As Mahatma Gandhi once said,” The earth has enough to fulfill everyone’s needs but not enough to fulfill everyone’s greed.” So, it’s time to take action. Or humanity will perish over water.