Water World

Posted by: admin  :  Category: B.C., Environment

When I was a kid growing up near the great lakes in Ontario, the topic of water conservation, water pollution, and acid rain where taught in school. A child of the seventies, and eighties by the time I was in school, the environmental era had taken hold in the mainstream. I can clearly remember the posters we made and hung in the school halls about all the issues surrounding water. Even then I was aware water was something of great value. I remember watching television and being horrified by the plight of people a world away in Africa dying because they didn’t have water. Live Aid, Band Aid and the likes were played on the radio and T.V, like an anthem to my generation. We are the world – We are the children -

Fast forward to my twenties; I made the pilgrimage from central Canada to the West Coast. I started spending time up at my father’s vacation property, miles away from any town, deep in the mountains surrounded by Ponderosa pines, wild streams, and rugged beauty. It was here I first learned the true value of water.

camping-papa-johns-039

Years ago at my father’s property there was no well dug yet. We trucked in all the water we would consume ourselves. Lucky to have a stream at the very edge of his acreage, we would hike down to it for water to boil to wash dishes. This gave me some small insight into what it means to have water at the tap; the convenience I had taken for granted for twenty years was never more clear to me then.

If you have never been lucky enough to experience camping in the wild, it may be hard to comprehend my experience. Here in north America we have an abundance of water, in Canada particularly, with the most fresh water in the world, it can be hard for the average city dweller to relate to a lack of water.

Today there is World Water Day - World Ocean day, and World Rivers Day to remind us of the issues and very real threats that our water supply faces. You don’t have to look far, watering restrictions, water contamination, and bottled water are all hot topics for the blogisphere and beyond. When the statistic I read in the April 2010 National Geographic related that EVERY YEAR, U.S. SWIMMING POOLS LOSE 150 BILLION GALLONS OF WATER TO EVAPORATION, one has to wonder if everyone has forgotten the value of water.

After heavy irrigation some progress has been made the world over to improve the availability of water for drinking and farming. There are still millions of people around the world who do not have access to clean water or proper sanitation. The divergence of this water has caused many problems as well, damming natural streams, piping water, sometimes miles into dense cities is not effective, the longest water tunnel supplying New York City at 85 miles, loses 35 million gallons of water a day, we can not say this is effective.

In California irrigation enables farmers to grow half of all the fruit, vegetables and nuts in the United States, while at the same time creating a dust bowl where fresh water used to flow.

Water Aid is an organisation that’s focus is to improve access to fresh water and sanitation for the poorest nations on earth. Still there are people, usually woman and girls, who spend hours a day fetching water, usually contaminated , just to survive.

An article in the April  2010 National Geographic is appropriately named The Burden of Thirst. When writing about water in Africa one quote states ” Villagers think of water as a gift from God. But someone has to pay for it. Although water springs from the earth, pipes and pumps, alas do not. And water is most expensive to provide for those least able to afford it.”

The reality in poor nations, and the world over is the same; “When clean water becomes plentiful, all the hours previously spent hauling water can be used to grow more food, raise more animals or even start income-producing businesses.”

The United Nations has stated that access to clean water is a human right. Our bodies are made up of 60% water, it is the most valuable element on earth. Water conservation and stewardship is one place to start.

This graph from the Environment Canada website is telling;
daily-domestic-use

There are many things we can do to improve on this statistic. From using more effective shower heads,  tap aerators and modern toilets, even water displacement in toilets can save huge amounts of water. Rain water collections, reusing grey water – watering plants with dish water for example.  Watering by hand instead of using a sprinkler;  take short showers, keep water in the refrigerator instead of letting it run to get cold. All these measures can make a difference.

One thing everyone can do is inform themselves about the issues and make better choices to conserve and become better stewards of the water.

Here more tips on wise water use

Thousands have lived without love, but not one has lived without water. — W.H. Auden