Fresh water too often taken for granted

Thursday is World Water Day, a day to take a minute to think about the resource we all take for granted.

Thursday is World Water Day, a day to take a minute to think about the resource we all take for granted.

Most of us turn on the tap and use what comes out of it  for drinking, cooking, and washing ourselves and our belongings, without giving much thought to how much water is needed for other things, electricity, crop irrigation, landscaping, manufacturing, fracking for natural gas, recreation, whatever.

This year’s theme is Water and Food Security. The United Nations’ definition of food security is that everyone has enough to eat to be healthy and active.

It takes between 2,500 and 5,000 litres of water to produce food for one person each day. Unfortunately many countries don’t have enough freshwater to go around, and countries that do, like Canada, over-use and abuse it.

The “health” of the world’s freshwater ecosystems has declined by 50 per cent since 1970, more than half the world’s major rivers have been seriously damaged, and more than half of the world’s wetlands have been eliminated. It goes on and on. The reason is obvious.

The world population is growing and consequently using more water, so more freshwater ecosystems are disrupted, contaminated and too often destroyed. Does it matter?

Maybe not to us, but  it could mean disaster for our grandchildren. There is an end to everything, the Earth is finite, and our fresh water supply won’t last if we keep mucking it up.

Those of us who live in Williams Lake and the surrounding areas get our water from a common aquifer, and so far the aquifer is “holding its own” in terms of sustainabilty.  According to the 2010 Piteau report, 59 per cent of the city’s water goes to domestic use and 41 per cent to industry. Some 30 per cent of household water goes to flushing toilets. Some wonder if industrial use and flushing toilets are the best things to do with fresh water.

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.

 

 

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