Clean fresh water is a very limited resource. Of all of the water that exists on Planet Earth, less than 1 percent of it is usable fresh water. Water is so important for our own bodies that we can only survive for 3 to 5 days without it . We bathe in fresh water. We use it to wash our clothes and our dishes. We cook with it. We clean with it, and we drink it.
For most of us, we use water for many activities on a daily basis. And all of this daily water consumption adds up to a lot of water.
Every day, an average American family uses more than 300 gallons (1,135 liters) of water and around 70 percent of that is used indoors, with the bathroom accounting for the largest share since a toilet alone can use 24 percent !
Such a high water consumption is far from the 1.2 billion people in the world who lack adequate access to water and use less than 5 gallons (19 liters) per person per day .
Why should we conserve water and help preserve water resources we have?
There is no more water being produced on our planet
The amount of water that we have on Earth today is the same amount of water that it has always had.
For increasing number of people living in our world today, the fresh clean water that does exists and is available on our planet is becoming less and less accessible.
We are losing our freshwater supplies
As the world continues to warm, freshwater will become more limited in the future for all of us.
We are already seeing more drought conditions throughout the globe, and as the climate continues to warm we will see increased drought and desertification in many places around the world. That will make it very challenging to provide enough water for a growing global population.
Modern lifestyle supports water wasting
And yet, in many ways, we continue to waste water through activities such as watering of lawns, using agricultural, industrial, and municipal methods that are very water-consumptive, and often polluting fresh water through agricultural runoff and through the use of chemicals.
The watering of lawns is a particularly wasteful activity, as we water our lawns with fresh potable water at a time in history when many people around the world do not have enough water to meet even their basic daily needs.
If we do not begin to seriously conserve our precious clean freshwater resources now, we may all find ourselves in a world of increased conflicts, fighting over what usable water remains. This is a future that very few would desire.
Our future doesn’t have to be so disastrous, however. Today, all of us can make important choices each time that we use water. Each decision of how we use water has the potential to make a positive impact for the future of our global water resources.
How can you conserve water at home? The best water saving devices for the home
The wasteful management of this key resource also has, beyond the multiple environmental consequences, economic implications for every household. While it is generally accepted that energy efficiency measures, such as double-glazed windows offer a clear advantage to consumers, the same benefits are not as widely supported when it comes to water saving technologies.
By introducing water saving devices in every home, households stand to curb their water bills and help conserve water resources.
Here are some great solutions that provide a great return on investment for you and at the same time significantly help to reduce your water consumption:
#1 More efficient flushing
Nowadays, standard toilets use 1.6 gallons (6 liters) per flush, but older toilets, for example such as those before 2001, may use as much as 3.5 to 7 gallons (13 to 26.5 liters) per flush.
In the UK alone, this difference in standards could save around 600 million liters of water a day and over 65,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year .
There is one gadget that can help bring older toilets up to the standard of newer ones and help conserve water when flushing. It is the Hippo. It is easy to install and lasts a very long time. The Hippo is a type of polyethylene bag which can be manually placed in the water underneath the cistern float . When the toilet flushes, and the water confined in the bag is saved.
#2 Water saving shower heads
We all know how important it is to turn the tap off when applying soap or shampoo and only keep the water running when rinsing. But there is more we can do to make our showers more water efficient.
Installing water efficient shower heads can save you up to 10 gallons (38 liters) of water for each 10-minute shower, depending on the model you choose. In an average family of four that adds up to 2,700 gallons (10,220 liters) of heated water per month .
Similarly, installing a low flow faucet aerator helps minimize the amount of water that flows out of the faucet, so less water is used overall.
#3 Smart sprinklers
Households consume a lot of water for outdoor activities, primarily when looking after gardens and watering plants. It was therefore only a matter of time until innovators dabbled with updating the traditional garden sprinklers.
The Droplet sprinkler helps conserve both water and energy by connecting it to a smartphone or tablet. When connected the Droplet sprinkler can develop a customized water schedule for the specific garden or set of plants using information from the Droplet sprinkler’s vast data network.
This tailored and targeted watering uses as little as 10 percent of the water of traditional sprinklers and save over $250 per year, in addition to thousands of gallons of water .
#4 Grey water diverter
Another way to conserve water is to divert water used in the bathroom or kitchen and reuse it for other purposes, particularly for watering the garden or washing cars.
In most households, this water goes straight into the sewage, but a grey water diverter can divert this water and store it in a storage vessel or connect it directly to a water hose.
While this would help conserve water, it is important to note that the grey water is often mixed with cosmetics or household cleaners that can harm the environment in large quantities. Unless all the products that are used in the household are eco-friendly, it would make sense to opt for a grey water diverter valve.
This means that instead of having a simple equal tees waste pipe splitter which is connected into the bathroom wastepipe before it joins the sewer pipe, a valve and a manual switch are added on to that so that you can choose which water can be conserved and which should not.
Other little actions you can take to make the difference
- Do not forget to turn your faucets off when running water is no longer needed.
- You can choose to landscape your lawn in a way that does not require watering. Opt for native plants and grasses as these are more likely to thrive with rainfall and very minimal additional irrigation.
- Install rain gardens in your yard to help recharge local water tables and use water conserving methods in your gardens.
- Your diet can also have a tremendous impact of water conservation. Eating less meat can make a real improvement to water scarcity as a typical hamburger can take 630 gallons (2,384 liters) to produce.
- Also, do not forget to support companies that include water conservation as one of their corporate values and farming practices that conserve water.
- Support public policies and organizations that are working to conserve our global water resources for future generations.
Most of all, you should be mindful of how much water you use, conserve water wherever you can, and have an attitude of gratitude for the water that is still available to many of us.
What are we currently doing to protect global freshwater resources?
Governments around the world are legislating to ensure that water used for industrial purposes is cleaned up before being reintroduced in the water stream, the same goes for water used in cities and households as the sewage system and water treatment processes aim to clean the water.
Initiatives are in place to ensure that our farming activities impact the environment and our freshwater resources to a lesser extent. Farmers often use pesticides and fertilizers to grow crops; their use pollutes water used for irrigation and causes imbalances in the aquatic ecosystems where that water ends up.
That is the reason why this issue needs our ultimate attention and international effort to protect this vital resource.
Transboundary cooperation for clean water
At an international level, in 1992, governments signed up the “Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes.”
This UNECE’s (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) agreement aims to protect and ensure the quantity, quality and sustainable use of transboundary water resources by facilitating cooperation across countries.
Members of the Convention agree to cooperating on the management of transboundary waters by entering into specific agreements and establishing joint bodies. While initially negotiated as a regional instrument, as of March 2016 other UN member states can sign up to this Convention, making this into a universally available legal framework for transboundary water cooperation initiative.
Addressing water issues in developing countries
While progress is being made in many parts of the world, some developing regions still do not take water protection seriously.
For example, the state of water in countries like China is rather bad: 20 percent of the groundwater in China used as drinking water is highly contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals which cause high levels of water pollution.
One very important element is to make sure that developing regions invest in protecting their freshwater resources better to eliminate discrepancies in legislative ambition for water protection.
This can be achieved by putting pressure on local governments as well as supporting civil society organizations working on the ground in compromised regions to deliver projects that will help clean and protect our planet’s freshwater resources.