Water conservation is a big buzz phrase right now, especially with the droughts in much of the American west/midwest. It’s one of those environmental-y phrases which can sound very abstract, so let’s do a little refresher on what it is and why it’s important.
Water conservation is essentially conserving or cutting back on, your water consumption. We use water for a whole host of things in our daily lives, not to mention the obvious (drinking). We use water to wash clothes, to cook food, to take showers. To conserve is to make conscious changes to your routine to reduce the amount you use.
Conservation can look different for every person. Some of us take ridiculously long showers, say, while those of us who take 5-minute showers can still reduce water usage with a low-flow showerhead. Likewise, you can consolidate the laundry loads you do, and you can also invest in a more efficient washing machine.
But why should we go to this kind of effort to save water in the first place?
One reason is staring right at many Americans. Depleting the water table makes wildfires much more likely, and it means there’s less of a reserve for irrigation when droughts strike.
Irrigation and farming more generally are one of the biggest reasons to save water. It’s impossible to grow vegetables without water, and raising meat takes even more. As more and more of the world discovers a taste for meat, water shortages spike drastically because of all the gallons consumed in meat production.
Another reason is that despite the fact that most Westerners have ample water supply, the world’s water supply is in jeopardy. A lot of us in the west take our clean water for granted. We’re used to having enough for everything we want to do, and we assume that the water in our pipes is both clean and safe. That’s not true for billions of people in the world.
Humans need water more than anything else aside from air. Our bodies are mostly made from water, as most of us learn in biology class. We use water for nearly everything we do. Without it, we couldn’t grow food, we couldn’t wash, we couldn’t use the bathroom, and we wouldn’t be able to have pets. Given that the world’s population will probably increase by 50% before the next 50 years are up, we’re going to be even more squeezed for water than we already are.
Global warming will have an impact on our water situation, too. The hotter the planet gets, the more rainfall will evaporate when it hits the surface.
It’s easy to be complacent when you think about the sheer amount of water on this planet. The fact is, though, that nearly 99% of the water on Earth is undrinkable and unusable for most of the applications we use it for. Suddenly, it looks like a lot less, doesn’t it? We need to do everything we can to preserve the supply of clean water we have and to prevent it from getting polluted.