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the water that flows … part 1

Posted By daniela rambaldini On June 22, 2009 @ 7:00 am In Ecosystems,lakes & freshwater systems,oceans,pollution,water | Comments Disabled

in my previous post [1], i briefly introduced “the water issue” … water is a necessity, a blessing, a right, a luxury, an indispensable and irreplaceable vital nutrient … and yet, i consider myself ineffably fortunate to have daily, liberal access to clean, abundant, potable water on demand — where i want it, when i want it …

how and why is it that approximately 1.1 billion people in the world (more than 16% of the world’s population; United Nations statistics, 2004) live without free access to clean, sufficient water? … equally horrific is the fact that billions more live without adequate sanitation …

water scarcity and water pollution [2] are harsh realities for more than 50% of the world’s population … for the rest of us who have free access to water and the capacity to regulate our water use, it is  imperative that we respectfully moderate our water consumption … use only what you need [3]

the reality is that overall, fresh water is yet another planetary natural resource that is diminishing, access to which is becoming increasingly more difficult and rare … to make matters worse, world wide demand for fresh water is also on the rise …

global water consumption is doubling every 20 years; a rate twice as rapid as global human population growth … the ecological, social, political, and economic implications and ramifications of this trend are  alarming … if the said trend persists unchanged, global demand for access to freshwater may exceed water availability by 56% …

the concept of water scarcity may be counter-intuitive, especially if you consider that more than 70% of the Earth’s surface is comprised of water (approximately 71% saltwater and 1% freshwater) … however, consider the following …

how can Earth’s water supply be diminishing?

a basic overview of the ecological water cycle:

water cycle 2

compare the above to a basic overview of the urban water cycle:

water cycle urban 4 www.pacificwater.org

the amount of water that is “lost” to run off, soil erosion, pollution (e.g., effluent, sewage, chemical-laden agricultural irrigation), treatment plants, and impervious surfaces increases proportionately with the degree of urban development:

source: California Water & Land Use Partnership

source: California Water & Land Use Partnership

source: Natural Resources Conservation Service, US Department of Agriculture

source: Natural Resources Conservation Service, US Department of Agriculture

in the urban water cycle, water is eventually reverted back into the system in various forms … however, when, where, and how the water cycles back are not necessarily or predictably at a time, location, quality, or in a form that can be effectively reused …

worse still, many pollutants cannot be completely or safely removed from sewage, industrial effluent, or run off from urban surfaces (e.g., streets, building roof tops, etc.) and agricultural fields (including livestock feed lots) … this further decreases the safety of available water on a local and regional level … polluted groundwater [4] is a particularly alarming concern …

desalination [5] of salt water is not necessarily a viable — or ideal — solution … most importantly, it does not address or solve the issue that a lot of water is wasted needlessly … moreover, it is energy intensive, ecologically invasive, and costly …

one real solution to the problem is to moderate water use … keep in mind that this responsibility must be shared among the general public, industry, and government …

there are very easy, simple habits you can adopt to make you a responsible and respectful water consumer … i will provide a list of ideas in the next upcoming post (wed. june 24 [3]) …

“the wars of the next century will be about water …”

ismail serageldin, vice-president of the world bank

Article printed from Join the Evolution: http://www.jointheevolution.ca/blog

URL to article: http://www.jointheevolution.ca/blog/2009/06/22/the-water-that-flows-part-1/

URLs in this post:

[1] in my previous post: http://www.jointheevolution.ca/blog/2009/06/19/

[2] water scarcity and water pollution: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7FZYshIex0

[3] use only what you need: http://www.jointheevolution.ca/blog/2009/06/24/the-water-that-flows-part-2-general-water-saving-tips/

[4] groundwater: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groundwater

[5] desalination: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desalination

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