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6 Reasons Why Water Consumption Matters


Why should we worry about water? It's everywhere, right? Well, as it turns out, there's quite a few good reasons we should be concerned.

The Problem is Now

If it wasn't already clear, it has become crystal clear during the water shortages of the past few years: we live on a planet with finite resources, and one of those resources is clean water. Recent droughts in arid parts of North America and the World have put our problems with water into sharp focus. It's time to wake up and smell the coffee (which, incidentally, takes 37 gallons of water to produce per cup, from start to finish).

Water Scarcity Raises Food Prices

Droughts across the western part of the United States have sent farmers scrambling to compete with residential and industrial water use in order to irrigate their fields. Talk of a California Dust Bowl has farmers, ecologists, and economists all worried about the far reaching effects of poor water consumption. The costs of sparse harvests get passed on to consumers in the grocery store.

Our Aquifers are Drying Up

The primary source of our fresh and clean water in North America is under our feet. These vast aquifers are what have allowed us to take our supply of fresh and clean water for granted, but they're not limitless. According to the USGS, the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the largest in the world, has declined by 50% thickness in some areas.

Personal Consumption Makes a Difference

You may not think that there's a lot you can do, but the EPA estimates that 10% of water use in the US comes from residential and commercial sources--things like cooking or bathing. Eco-minded plumbing experts from Imagine Plumbing say that the average domestic water use in the US and Canada is nearly 100 gallons per capita.

Even more importantly, agriculture represents a huge source of water consumption--and what you eat can make the difference. The Sierra Club estimates that 1,850 gallons of water are used to produce a single steak! Eating lower on the food chain can make a difference in water usage for agriculture.

Water Scarcity Can Create Conflict

No one wants to get involved in a border war. In arid parts of the world, this happens over water. Water is fundamental to life--we drink it, we clean with it, we irrigate crops with it. A resource this precious can't become scarce without causing conflict.

Our Alternatives Are Expensive

When we've used up all of the freshwater reserves, we'll have no choice but to start treating non-fresh water. Options include wastewater treatment and desalinization, but both can be pricey--certainly more expensive than pumping it up from the ground. While we may have plenty of ocean water, getting it into a useable state is neither easy nor cheap.

Water is something we too often take for granted. Don't forget to take a look around and imagine what life would be like without it.


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