Water is essential for life. All living beings on the planet rely on water to survive. Without water, life would not exist. Earth is our home and, as individuals on this planet, we have a responsibility to care for it. Water makes up 71% of Earth’s surface but 96.5% of that water is contained within the oceans, which due to the salt water levels, is not drinkable. Only 3% of Earth’s water is fresh and can be found on surfaces of lakes, rivers, reservoirs, glaciers, and underground. While fresh water has given life for eons on this planet, climate change poses a dire threat to access to clean water. As inhibitors of the “Blue Planet”, educating ourselves on water conservation, and taking action, is essential to sustaining life as we know it.
Water conservation is the act of ensuring the availability of water for future generations while actively supporting policies, strategies, and activities to sustain water resources. In recent decades, the climate crisis has put a strain on water reservoirs around the world, raising questions and concerns globally as to how to be better stewards of our freshwater resources. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), water demand has increased dramatically in the past 50 years and there is expected to be water shortages by the year 2024 in at least 40 states.
While there have been global efforts to address the water crisis, Indigenous communities have been at the forefront of the fight for water rights. Indigenous communities have always understood that water is a source and sustenance of life, yet there has been an overwhelming destruction and privatization of water resources by large-scale corporations. Water should be a basic human right and there should not be a price on natural resources that give life to humanity. Supporting Indigenous leadership in communities fighting for water rights is a crucial component of the water conservation movement.
When it comes to water conservation, there are many misconceptions. Let’s unpack some of the most common ones:
There is water everywhere on Earth, so why should I care about conserving water?
While the majority of our planet is covered in water, 97% of that water is undrinkable due to salt levels. Around 2% of the water that is drinkable is trapped in glaciers, ice caps, and snowy mountain ranges. That leaves just 1% of fresh water, obtainable through rivers, reservoirs, or underground, to supply the entire global population.
Water goes through a circular cycle so we will always have enough water.
False. While water is continuously reused and recycled through the water cycle, the water we have is finite while the demand for that water has exploded over time. Climate change has also affected seasonal weather patterns and the increase of natural disasters has disrupted the supply of water available to many communities.
It rains a lot where I'm from so we don't need to worry about conserving water.
False again. Unfortunately, when it does rain heavily, many reservoirs do not have the capability to store large volumes of water and so we are limited in how much water we can take from the environment. And when rain does fall after a long period of dry weather, water sources can take time to bounce back to full health.
But my town has plenty of water! So it’s not my problem.
While your area may have access to water for now, it is important to recognize that this may not always be the case. This issue affects all of us and as the demand for water increases water resources will need to be redistributed.
I’m just one person and my individual actions will not help.
Absolutely false! While one person cannot solve the water crisis alone, if many people make small, everyday changes to reduce their water consumption, it can, and will, have a global impact. Taking steps to lower your water consumption may also inspire those around you to educate themselves to become better water conservationists.
Individual change leads to collective change which then ignites systematic change. If you have never thought about water conservation before, don’t worry, now is the perfect time to change your habits. You don’t have to be perfect when it comes to saving water. You can begin your water conservation journey by taking small steps.
Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- When peeling and cleaning vegetables, use a large bowl of water rather than keeping the faucet running.
- Install low-flush toilets to reduce water usage by 40-50%.
- When brushing your teeth, turn off the running water.
- Try taking shorter showers. Studies have shown that the average shower uses at least 20 gallons of water. Or, better yet, try a water-efficient shower. For example, Nebia Showers save up to 65% of water compared to standard showers.
- Get involved with your local government! Sign petitions and push for water conservation laws.
- Talk to your friends and family about the importance of water conversation. Set an example through your own actions and explain to them why they should care.
On a planet growing towards 10 billion people, each and every one of us has a responsibility to do what we can to conserve water, for ourselves, for future generations, and for our beautiful Blue Planet. I hope you will join me in doing your part.