Water is the most important natural resource on the planet. Water sustains all life on Earth- animals, plants, organisms, microbes, etc. Most parts of the Earth- 70 percent– are covered in water, while only 2.5 percent of the water out of 70 percent is freshwater. Of the available fresh water, approximately 69.9 percent is in the form of ice, glaciers, and snow cover, 30 percent is in the form of groundwater, and 0.3 percent is in rivers and lakes.
Human beings have exploited water just like they have exploited every other natural resource in the environment. An average household wastes up to 180 gallons of water every week and up to 9,400 gallons of water per year just from household leaks. This exact amount of water is needed to wash more than 300 loads of laundry. There is no doubt that the world is currently running out of water.
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Importance of Water
As mentioned above, water occupies a lot of space on the Earth- spreading over 1.332 billion cubic kilometers. Water moves in a constant cycle- it is evaporated from the ocean, condenses into clouds, comes down on land as rain, and then flows onto rivers and lakes back into the sea. This cycle is nature’s way of recycling.
Humans consume water for drinking and other household and industrial purposes. Water is significantly used to produce hydropower by harnessing its energy. When we compare water to other natural resources used to produce energy and power, water has the least solid waste during energy production.
It supports all life on the planet by providing nutrients and minerals.
It is essential for aquatic organisms for respiration.
It is a crucial element in photosynthesis.
All water bodies contain dissolved air (oxygen) necessary to sustain life.
Water Shortage and Scarcity
According to the World Economic Forum, the global water crisis is the fourth global risk in terms of impact on society. Up to 2.8 billion people in the world are currently living in water-scarce areas, and some 0.9 billion people lack access to safe and clean water. 4 billion people around the world face the issue of water scarcity at least once a month per year, and around 500 million people face year-round water scarcity.
Food production consumes more water than any other industry and wastes much of that through disorganization. The agriculture sector is predicted to struggle with increasing risks of water shortages. Pressure on food systems is evident as the increasing population demands more water and food. An estimated 1.8 billion people will be living in regions with absolute water shortage during 2025, while 5.3 billion people could be living under extreme water-stressed conditions.
Several water systems worldwide that support ecological balance and nurture the growing human population have become stressed. Lakes, rivers, well, etc., are gradually drying up or are becoming too contaminated and polluted to use. Increasing shortages and droughts worldwide are taking place due to alterations in weather and water patterns caused by climate change and global warming.
The water shortage crisis will only worsen at the world’s current production and consumption rate. Ecosystems and humans around the world will suffer even more. Thus, the conservation of water in all possible ways is important today.
Five Ways to Conserve Water
Water-Saving System in Agriculture
As the agricultural sector utilizes the most water globally, it is necessary for farmers and landowners to take drastic steps to save water. Rainwater Harvesting (RWH) collects rainwater in tanks or reservoirs for future use. Sudden weather conditions and water shortages can be mitigated using RWH. RWH systems are carried out in farms, homes, parks, offices, etc. Using black plastic and organic mulches can help save 25 percent of water in agriculture. It reduces water evaporation and helps in controlling weeds. Farmers should plant drought-tolerant crops and native crop species more often as they are accustomed to certain regions and are naturally drought-tolerant. Agroforestry can significantly help save water as the plantations of trees around farms reduce the rate of evaporation.
Guidelines for Industries and Factories
Several industries utilize water on a large scale and also contribute to the contamination of water bodies. Owners and CEOs should consider educating their employees about the importance of water and the need to conserve it. Routine checks such as installing monitors, water pressure meters, and low flow meters will help identify valves, joints, and pipes leaks. To avoid excessive water consumption, a switch to electric appliances, such as electric brooms, cleaning devices, vacuum cleaners, etc., is recommended. We can recycle water by using non-portable water for plants, fire protection, pH adjustment, etc.
Saving Water Outdoors
Caring for backyards, gardens, lawns, and parks can consume a lot of water. Thus, it is necessary to use water only when required and not for other reasons. Monitoring sprinkling systems and timing devices are necessary to ensure that water isn’t wasted. Drip irrigation is an effective and efficient method of watering plants, it reduces water evaporation, sends water directly to the roots, and delays weed growth. Switch to brooms or rakes to clean sidewalks or patios instead of using a hose.
Water-Saving Systems in Bathrooms
One of the largest sources of household water wastage is flushing toilets. According to experts, old toilets utilize an enormous amount of water per flush- 5 to 7 gallons. Installing water-saving toilet flush systems can save up to 700 liters of water per year. Filling a plastic bottle with sand or water and placing it in the toilet tank can also save up to 5 gallons every day. According to research, an average person wastes at least 17 gallons of water when showering. The water wasted every day just by showering is outrageous. Cutting down long showers to a minimum of 5 minutes can help save water and is also the easiest way to save water at home. Besides this, closing the tap while brushing your teeth, fixing leaky taps and pipes at home, using dishwashers and washing machines only when the load is full, etc., can help save tons of water.
Saving Water in the Kitchen
Besides the bathroom, the most amount of water is wasted in the kitchen. Families cook and consume daily; a lot of water is used for cooking, washing vegetables, and scrubbing utensils and vessels. We can use the water used to wash vegetables, fruits, and grains to water plants. A large amount of water is wasted while washing utensils. Turning off the running tap while washing dishes and utensils is one way to conserve water efficiently.
Dr. Emily Greenfield is a highly accomplished environmentalist with over 30 years of experience in writing, reviewing, and publishing content on various environmental topics. Hailing from the United States, she has dedicated her career to raising awareness about environmental issues and promoting sustainable practices.