Water – Conserving the 1%

Nov 22, 2021

I am an advocate for taking personal responsibility when it comes to environmental sustainability. 

Every individual choice and action we take has consequences.

Take, for instance, our use of water. There is a perception that it is an abundant natural resource, however, it is limited. Of the 70% of our Earth that is covered in water, only 3% is actually fresh and drinkable. Of this 3% it is not that easy to get! 80% of it is actually frozen in the polar ice caps. So, what does this leave us with? A shocking 1% of fresh water available to us- globally.

As our world population and industries grow, there is a huge demand placed on our water resources. As of 2019, a total of 17 countries are now feeling the stress of water shortages. 

The World Data Institute (WRI) says that about one quarter of the world’s population, approximately 1.7 BILLION people - live in a place where farming, industry and cities use 80% of their available water supply every year.

This means that only 20% is left for humans to use - for drinking, bathing, cooking etc.

The message here is we need to conserve water and make better decisions around its use.  So how can we take personal responsibility? 

Each time we turn on a tap, doing so consciously and not wasting this precious resource. We can reduce the capacity where it is going to waste too. Putting aerators on tap faucets and showers reduces the water flow rate by adding air to it and so less water is being wasted.

Take this household case study for example.

One shower uses 12 litres of water per minute.  If they take a 15-minute shower, this uses a total of 180 litres per shower.  Let’s say there are 3 household members who shower 4 times per week: that is a total of 2,160 litres of water per week.  This is a conservative estimate. 

If they get a showerhead with an aerator this will bring the water flow rate to 10 litres of water per minute.  If they still take a 15-minute shower they will use 150 litres.  Multiply this by the 3 household members by 4 times a week, that gives you a total of 1,800 litres.  

The difference per week of water saved is 360 litres.  If we take this over the full year this is a savings of 18,720 litres per year.  That is just one household.  They didn’t even have to shorten their shower.   Our cumulative actions are the cause of the vast majority of our climate change problems, but equally I think that cumulative action can be the solution.  

In a National Geographic article I read recently, it stated that we are now seeing the disruption and impact climate change is having on the water cycle.  Weather systems are changing.  I think for some people this translates as meaning there will be no shortage of water. 

What the National Geographic article highlighted was that it actually means more flooding.  With this comes run-off water contaminated with fertilizer from the land draining into rivers & lakes, polluting our water supply. When it reaches the sea, it promotes algae growth and blooms which reduce the oxygen in the water. The toxins from algae blooms not only kill aquatic life but make people sick as it survives through our water purification systems making our tap water undrinkable.

Another knock-on effect which we have heard a lot about is our oceans heating up, causing glaciers to melt and sea levels to rise. The freshwater from these melting glaciers runs into the oceans and scientists are now seeing that this is pushing the Gulf Stream to the verge of collapse.  

Our choices are driving this – Climate Change. We need cumulative action, collaboration, making the choice today to reduce our use of precious resources. 

The case study I offer is simplistic, but it is to show that a simple change can reduce our use of water and it adds up to big savings. The same can be done for our use of energy, and for our production of waste.  One small change per person can create huge savings from our carbon emissions. Creating Solutions, once choice at a time.



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