Clean fresh water is a very limited resource. Of all of the water that exists on Planet Earth, less than 1% of it is usable fresh water. Water is so important for our own bodies that we can only survive for 3-5 days without it[sc:1]. 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. In the U.S. alone, it is estimated that each person on average uses about 80-100 gallons of water per day[sc:2]. In contrast, the average daily water use per African family is estimated at 5 gallons per day[sc:3].
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[sc:4]. For increasing numbers of people living in our world today, the fresh clean water that does exist on our planet is becoming less and less accessible for them[sc:6].
As the world continues to warm, fresh water 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[sc:5]. That will make it very challenging to provide enough water for a growing global population.
It is predicted that by the year 2030, 50% of the global population will be water-stressed[sc:6]. And yet, in many ways, we continue to waste water through activities such as watering our 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 fresh water resources now, we may all find ourselves in a world of increased conflicts, fighting over what usable water remains[sc:7]. This is a future that very few would desire.
A different future is possible!
Our future need not 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. We can choose to use water-saving devices in our homes, and turning our faucets off when running water is no longer needed. We can choose to landscape our lawns in ways that do not require watering, we can install rain gardens in our yard to help recharge our local water tables, and we can use water conserving methods in our gardens. We can support companies that include water conservation as one of their corporate values and farming practices that conserve water as well. We can also support public policies and organizations that are working to conserve our global water resources for future generations.
Most of all, we can be mindful of all of the water that we do use, conserve water wherever we can, and have an attitude of gratitude for the water that is still available to many of us.