Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Global Water Supplies: Are They Sustainable?

Summer Reading Post: Global Water Supplies: Are They Sustainable?

We are having one of the most glorious summers I can remember in a long time. Our days have been mild and our rainfall has been above average. It is July and we are only now seeing about 90 degree days. I hope you all are enjoying your break as much as I am. I have had the opportunity to work on some interesting projects this summer, one of which is to help collate some information on our county’s water quality and quantity. Get this:

The natural origin of the fresh water we use on a daily basis is limited to only one percent of the world’s water. Nearly 97% of the world’s water is salty or otherwise undrinkable, and the other two percent is locked in ice caps and glaciers:

• If five gallons represented all the water in the world – 34 tablespoons would represent water that was not ocean;
• Of the 34 tablespoons, 26 tablespoons would represent ice caps and glaciers;
• The remaining 8 tablespoons would represent water we can use for agricultural, residential, manufacturing, community, and personal needs.3

Water makes up almost two-thirds of the human body and 70 percent of the brain. The average daily requirement for water in the United States is about 341 billion gallons. We use one percent (3.4 billion gallons) in our homes and yards each day. On average, each of us uses almost 100 gallons of water a day including bathing, toiletry, cooking, cleaning, laundry and other non-drinking purposes. Americans drink more than one billion glasses of tap water per day. If we think of water as a precious resource, necessary for our survival as organisms, our focus on conserving water is emphasized.

This information above is from a brochure published by the Environmental Protection Agency called Source Water Protection: It’s In Our Hands. It made me start thinking about global water supplies. Will we always have adequate water supplies?

Consider these questions while reading the following article:

• How much water do people need?
• How abundant are world supplies of clean water?
• How much water is used in agriculture?
• Who provides the world’s water?
• What effects will population growth and development have on water supplies?
• How could disagreements over water lead to conflicts among nations?
• What effects will climate change have on water supplies?

One in six of the planet’s 6.4 billion people presently lack access to safe water, and a least 2.4 billion do no have access to adequate sanitation. Water demand is projected to grown by 40% over the next twenty years.

Answer one or all of the following questions:

1. How has climate change impacted global water supplies?
2. Why is it so important for individuals to have access to clean water supplies?
3. In your own words, put together a brief plan of how you might assist impoverished countries develop a program that ensures access to clean safe water?

Be thankful you are living in Berkeley Springs this summer. You could live in California, the state is literally on fire or you could be living in the Sudan.


dance_chick21 said...

Climate change is having a large impact on our global water supply in various ways. For example, unusual heavy rainfalls are causing sewers to overflow contaminating the water, whereas in some places the usual rainfalls have stopped coming leaving the countries with almost no water. Also the 2% of fresh water in the glaciers that people in the northern countries tap into for water are melting, becoming salty and undrinkable. It is really important for people all around the world to have fresh water supplies because, first of all, people need to drink! And would be wonderful if everyone could do that without getting sick and dying. Also sanitation is necessary because having a clean body and area to cook your food and sleep are all keys to keeping disease away. And once we do that we will be saving money on health care and there will be more people to employ. What doctors and nurses are doing in developing countries is great, but maybe we (developed countries) should focus on the root of the problem a bit more, and solve this problem more quickly.
~Chenaya Milbourne

Anonymous said...

Chenaya was absolutely right about how climate change is making any suitable drinking water unsuitable. Also, not only does global warming lead to the melting of glaciers and iceburgs, but what about when all those glaciers are gone? Over time, the water will begin to evaporate, which takes us back to the problem of drought in some countries. I feel terrible for the little girl, Sarah, in the article for having to walk 7 1/2 hours just to carry home 5 gallons of potentially unsafe water. I never realized how much I take for granted. Everyone needs to have suitable drinking water to survive. We all need water so we don't become dehydrated, but when we drink unsanitary water, it can cause disease and death. No one can help it if a country has a major drought and doesn't see rainfall for years, but the water they DO have needs to be treated for bacteria and diseases. If someone gets sick from the water, any waste of theirs, if not properly disposed of, can infect others, or recontaminate the waters. It's a big ugly chain that needs to be stopped. The article states a couple ways to start maintaining water supplies, and all countries, developing or developed, need to take caution and consider ways to keep the water for their people unharmful.
-Jessica Meyers

Anonymous said...

I agree with both Jess and Chenaya. After reading the article, I realized that I never even thought about the people that don't really have access to safe drinking water, I thought that was just something everyone had.
I think that as the world grows and more countries develop, there will be national conflicts over water. There is only so much safe drinking water and who decides who will get that water? Is it decided by the strongest military? Or the country that has the most people? This will be a growing concern as more people realize that this is a problem.
It is extremely important for people to have safe, clean water. Bathing and drinking contaminated water will certainly led to sickness and death.

Carrie said...

It is important that we have clean water because without it we would all die. If we were to take a shower in contaminated water or drink it we would most likely end up with a sickness of some kind. I agree with Jess that I feel sorry for that little girl for needing to walk that far to get maybe clean water. It makes you think that we are lucky to have the water we do.

-Carrie Boone

Carrie said...

Climate change has made a differnce because with the temp. going up like it's been, the iceburgs and glaciers are melting. And like Jess said once they melt they will start to evaporate and then a drought could occur. And without water the world can't survive.

-Carrie Boone

MaddyMAe0915 said...

I didn't realize that clean water is hard to come by in other countries. I have also been taking clean water for granted. But, there are ways to make unsanitary water sanitary. I mean, when you go camping, you can boil water and filter it and stuff to make it drinkable. I understand how it may not be as easy to do that to a whole ocean, but there are ways that it could be done. We could help those countries that have trouble finding good water. I agree that global warming is affecting the clean water supply. We should tackle the problem at its source. But, it will take time, money, and patience to try to solve the global warming problem, let alone all the other problems in today's world.

Sabrina said...

Climate change is killing our environment. We should start thinking green. I know a woman who lives next to me that only uses like half a bag of trash a MONTH!!! That is something we all need to do so our grandchildren can bathe and drink fairly drinkable water. We can do many things like reduce oil use and us alternate fuels. We can recycle more. I'm personally concerned with the polar bears. Their habitats are melting and its making us suffer while they are almost extinct.

Anonymous said...

I understand what everyone is saying, and people in desert countries and places experiencing a drought. However, what Maddie proposed was completely... well- COSTLY. Our generation is paying for the last one's mistakes!! And we can't REVERSE it. We can't stop te iceburgs from melting. Although a lot of desert/dry countries already boil water and filter it the process is highly expensive, and therefore a FAR reach for the poor, deprived countries. The process you guys are talking about is disambiguation-

we will end up resorting to this in the future, undoubtedly- but we as a race will not do it in time to make a difference.

Anonymous said...

sorry- forgot to say my name...

-Emily Yarrington

Ardath Osborne said...

Every living human being on earth needs water to live. By reading the listed articles and thinking more about how many people are with out clean water it makes more sense to me now why disease and death are prevalent in poorer countries because they lack clean water. How can these people get the clean water they need? It doesn't help that in many of these places, significant amounts of people live. More caution and care needs to be taken to maintain clean water so it is accessible so more people. This includes controlling wastes that pollute water.