Why do people waste water?
It’s distressing when hundreds of gallons of water go to waste while some individuals can’t find a good enough or safe enough supply for them and their families. While wasted water can't generally be redirected to those that have a greater need, it should make us value the importance of our water and think about those who don't have such easy access. People in the developed world are used to heading to the water cooler or turning on a tap and using water freely from a limitless supply. Often only when it directly affects the size of their bill do some people think about the amount of water that they waste (a situation seen with water meters).
What a lack of water means
Only when a minor catastrophe strikes and the water supplies are turned off for an hour or two do people realise how much they need water for drinking, for preparing food and sanitation purposes. Not being able to drink a glass of water or flush the toilet at the moment it is required can be quite a surprise. At the same time, in other parts of the world, some people spend the majority of their day searching for safe drinking water and if they can’t find some their family are in crisis. Each year, millions of people die from preventable diseases which are caused by lack of contact with clean water and sufficient sanitation. Many of these deaths involve young children. In particularly difficult areas, groundwater can be completely depleted. Rivers and lakes can dry up at different times of the year when many people are depending upon the water from these areas as irrigation to help grow their food, because we know that plants only grow through feeding, watering and sunlight. The developed world often fails to understand the ramifications of water scarcity and as climates change around the world, suitable sources of water can become even more difficult to find. For every person that allows gallons of water to flow down the sink until it becomes warm enough to wash their cutlery and crockery, many people are expected to walk miles every day to collect insufficient water and return it to their home.
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Progress and challenges
Incredibly, in 2013, around 880 million people do not have access to clean water, regularly. Around 2.7 billion people don’t have sanitation to acceptable standards. With the world’s population expected to rise from 7 to 10 billion by the end of this century, the wastage of water in some areas is more than just a major worry. Too many people around the world are using contaminated water for their cooking and drinking. A further lack of water makes many people fail to look after their personal hygiene sufficiently. There are many preventable diseases like cholera and dysentery that should have been eradicated from our planet by now, but illnesses like trachoma still exist, having already blinded 6 million people. The demand for water continues to grow at the same time the groundwater depletion has doubled since 1960. The United Nations General assembly has agreed that everyone on the planet should have access to the necessary 20 to 50 L of water that is required for each person every day. The difference between access to good quality water and poor water hygiene standards can be the difference between life and death. If everyone were able to stop wasting two or three litres of water a day, perhaps one day we won’t need to talk about water wastage ever again. Image credit