Ten Things You Should Know About Water

Check out this “infographic” on ten things that you should know about water.

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  1. Although the vast many of us in the western world know that the issue of fresh water is one which is a huge issue, I would argue that the issue is not being addressed properly particularly given the lack (or claimed lack) of financial resources that are currently available in the western world, in my opinion the issue should be seen not in the sense of being a financer taker but a finance giver instead. I would agree with the article both in introducing a similar system of credits that already exists to a certain extent in regard to green house gas emissions. This would enable for a saving for those who wanted to save and a sharpening of minds of those who continued to waste water. My question however is given what we already know about the US and Europe’s over use of water in relative terms to the rest of the world and the dominance in many international organizations, who would be best placed to allocate each credits in terms of number and size so as to redress the balance between the developed and developing world in terms of water consumption.

    There is one thing that must be remembered in regard to the credit system and its usage and it can be found in the recent revelations that China has banned many of its airlines from paying the EU emissions taxes for flying into European airports and thus threatening the whole success of the program- could it be argued that if such a water credit system was introduced the Chinese and many other countries in Asia and elsewhere would simply ignore such a system and pit forward the some would say valid argument that the reason fresh water shortage is an issue due to developed nations and why should it not be them who reduces consumption?

  2. Stanley Hua

     /  29/02/2012

    Three facts in the article which really stood out to me were facts number 4, 5, and 9. These facts show the importance of water to the human race and highlight the limited amounts of water that we have.

    Fact #4: Only .007% of the total water in the world is accessible for human use. This .007% is used to quench thirst, produce beef, grow crops and create life. As someone who can just turn on the tap and use seemingly unlimited amounts of water it is quite hard to wrap my head around the fact that in terms of water use, Americans and Europeans are the 0.01% in terms of water consumption.

    The other interesting part about this fact is that 97.5% of the total water in the world is salt. I understand that there are technologies such as desalination that can tap into the salt water in the world, but the process is extensive and expensive. My gut feeling is that the future of water equity will depend on successful access to salt water. At the same time, could the water situation simply be due to mismanagement like the apparent lack of food in our world?

    Fact #5: Water footprints is a new concept to me as I have only ever heard of carbon footprints. The amount of water that goes into beef production surprises me since I eat quite a lot of beef, but looking at the water footprint in a cup of tea shows how unequal water distribution is in the world. A cup of tea has 9.2 gallons of water, but those who lack adequate water access only have access to around 5 gallons of water a day, which means that their water use is a little more than half of the water footprint in a cup of tea. At the same time, their water situation is even more grim when looking at the water footprint to brush one’s teeth (2 gallons)–which is 50% of their water use.

    Fact #9: Facts #4 and #5 show the disparity in water access in the world. And as an American, it is quite embarassing to know that the country which I come from uses more than twice the amount of water a day than a European with most of it going to watering lawns and washing cars. Now that I have a better idea of the extent of water inequity in the world, I can’t help but think that if people just paid more attention to the amount of lawn watering they do, or if they wash their car less, some of the water could be saved instead of going to waste.

  3. Jonathan M.

     /  01/03/2012

    Fact Number 7 is alarming, 6000 children dying everyday from water-borne diseases.
    Equally alarming, is the number of people lacking acces to clean water. 884 million in the world.
    This has concerned the international community, embedded in the Millennium Development Goal of the United Nations. (Target 10, goal 7) “Halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation”. Although is a big step, it’s still far from being satisfied.

    If we take the top 5 countries with the highest number of death due to diarrhea (India, Nigeria, DRC, Ethiopia, Pakistan) in that order, we can see that there is a relation between the economic development of these countries and the deaths. The supply of clean water is a matter of public health therefore the government is expected to supply it. But the population in these countries is exceeding the capacity and funds of the State, thus private investement is needed.

    By providing the adequate infraestructure, it will not only be providing safe and clean water, preventing diseases, but it would also have other implicit effects on the society. If the people form the country side has acces to safe water, they become more productive (by not being sick), which would augment agriculture and commerce. It also reduces mortality (more labour force), lower health costs and there would be higher school attendance (443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related diseases).

    But the problem is that is not only a matter of providing them with the adequate infraestructure, they have to be taught how to sustain it. There have been many cases where new infraestructure has been constructed, but it became unusable after some years because of the lack of maintenance. It is very difficult to implement the courses of sustentability, they are hard to monitor. It is a joint failure from the both government and private institutions.

    Although there are several private institutions trying to advocate for the communities lacking acces to clean water, more suppor is needed. People take clean water for granted. What is needed is more diffusion about the problem, with this, people can become more active and spread the word. This should be done before the problem is irreversible.

    Here are some links of some campaigns to raise funds and to make people aware of this issue.


  4. Minji Choi

     /  01/03/2012

    I share the same concern with Jonathan in regards to sustainability of water projects. The statistics show over 50 percent of all water projects fail and less than five percent of projects are visited, and far less than one percent have any longer-term monitoring. Hence, there should be a joint effort of governments, private sectors, and communities not only on initiating water projects but also on maintenance. In order to tackle the issue of sustainability of water projects, water.org, NGO developed an innovative and useful device FLOW – field level operations watch to effectively monitor water projects in different parts of the world.


  5. Magan Haycock

     /  16/04/2012

    The importance of water and how much states need to supply their economies supports the argument of future potential “water wars”.

    Journalist Steven Solomon talks about this in his book:

    A problem I continually run into, however, is how to make the masses understand the importance of water to stop them from treating it as if it is an abundant resource. For example, how can you change the mindset of someone that feels entitled to a minimum 13 gallons of water a day for basic human health? I agree with movements towards water-conservation, but what does this look like in practicality? Should we stop taking as many showers? Stop taking showers completely and find other ways of cleansing ourselves? Should we find alternative ways of dish-washing? Of washing our clothes? Should we wash our hands less? What about health campaigns to stop the spread of viruses?

    I consider myself a water-conserving-conscious person, but thus far it this only resulted into me being conscious of how much water I use. I have not actually changed my way of life to support this awareness. How can we change the dialogue about water-awareness so that it moves from becoming a guilt-trip to constructive strategies to result in actual change the masses know how to implement? If we found a way to do this make this dialogue more realistic and applicable, individuals in developing countries (who use embarrassing amounts of water) may actually start water conservation.

  6. Daniel Walker

     /  04/05/2012

    Just a quick word in reply to your second paragraph there, Magan. Do you think that domestic water use is the main issue here? The infographic says that only eight percent of the world’s water is used domestically, and just eleven percent in high income states. Maybe water usage in industry is where the problem lies. I’m sure they have a lot more waste as well. I only say because I agree with you that it would be dangerous to tell people to use less water (shower less, wash their hands less) with the risk of pandemics ever present.


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