Written by Hamza Naveed & Syeda Asma (Members NUST Science Society)
You may be thinking what are these people talking about? There is more water on earth than there is land! While that may be true, there isn’t enough fresh drinking water (less than 1% of all the water on Earth), and as population continues to increase, there will be less and less water to share amongst ourselves if we continue to waste it. Too many of us are using water like it’s an unlimited resource. It is actually one of the more limited resources on the planet. All life on earth relies on water to live and if we continue to waste it, animals and plants will not be able to survive; putting our own survival at stake.
If we were to place financial value of all the ‘nutrients’ needed for survivability, water would surely be top on the list. Water is fundamental to human life, health and dignity. But over one billion people around the world, struggle daily without the bare minimum of safe water needed for their survival. The impact of this deprivation on children is particularly catastrophic. More than 4500 children die every day from waterborne diseases spread by poor sanitation and lack of basic hygiene awareness. Many more are left ill, malnourished and unable to learn. These are the factors that perpetuate poverty, particularly in poor rural communities. Daily per capita water consumption in the US is approximately 260 liters, while people in drought-hit developing countries have access to only 2-3 liters of water per day per capita.
With two-thirds of the earth’s surface covered by water and the human body consisting of 70 percent of it, it is evidently clear that water is one of the fundamental elements responsible for life on planet earth. Water is required for all bodily functions; for respiration, perspiration, growth, digestion, reproduction and many other functions taking place inside a living body. Not only that, but water has many vital vocations. More than we can imagine on a normal routine day.
Uses of water can be classified as:
Off stream uses; in which water is removed from its source, either by pumping or diversion and is used then.
Examples: Commercial usage, Domestic usage, Municipal, Irrigation, Thermal electricity and Industries.
In stream uses; in which water remains at its source or in the stream to be used.
Examples: Hydroelectricty, Recreation, Fish breeding, Navigation and transport.
Water-use trends established over the past half century provide some basis for estimating future water demands. It seems likely that water withdrawals for public supply and domestic uses will continue to increase with increasing population. Higher water prices and active water conservation programs, however, may reduce the per capita usage rate. With increased competition for water for in stream uses, such as river-based recreation, aesthetic enjoyment, fish and wildlife habitat, and hydroelectric power, along with higher municipal uses, irrigators will have increasing difficulty competing economically for available water supplies.
In the many countries around the world, existing sources of water are being stressed by withdrawals from aquifers and diversions from rivers and reservoirs to meet the needs of homes, cities, farms, and industries. Consideration must also be given to leaving water in the streams and rivers to meet environmental, fish and wildlife, and recreational needs.
As planners, managers, and elected officials from all over the world, wrestle with the varied water management problems at the beginning of 21st century, we need consistent information on water supply and use. There is a need to spread a network of information and communicate accurate data throughout the world. This will help us all to realize the maximum benefit we can gain from our water resources and will help to strike that crucial balance between supply and demand.
History of World Water Day
The main theme of the Earth Summit was the Environment and Sustainable Development. It was attended by 108 heads of state with 172 governments participating and 2,400 NGOs (non-government organizations) around the world. An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the Earth Summit; and the United Nation’s General Assembly designated March 22, 1993 as the first World Water Day.
Every drop makes a difference
- ¼ of water is used for flushing toilets in homes.
- A 10 minute shower is equivalent to an average of 25 gallons.
- Brushing your teeth with the water running uses up 6 gallons of water.
What’s the cost of not conserving?
If all U.S. households installed water-saving features, water use would decrease by 30 percent, saving an estimated 5.4 billion gallons per day. This would result in dollar-volume savings of $11.3 million per day or more than $4 billion per year.
The average amounts of water it takes for different uses are listed in the chart below. If there are water-saving devices then these amounts will be much lower. Use regular or ‘high flow’ numbers in column 2 if your house has older plumbing. If your house was built in the last 5 years or has been retrofitted with low-flow fixtures use the water-saving column 3 numbers.
To find our how much water you use, fill in the number of minutes or uses for each use in the “minutes column” number 4. Then using the correct column (regular or water-saving) multiply by the number of minutes or uses a day and put the result in column 5. Add up the amounts in column 5 to get the total.
|Fixture or water use
|With regular fixtures you use:
|With water-saving fixture you use:
|Minutes or uses per day
|Total water use per day
|How else can you save water?
|Shower||7 gallons per minute||2.5 gallons per minute||Take shorter showers.|
|28-36 gallons for full tub||14-18 gallons for 1/2 tub||Don’t fill the tub as full and save up to half the water.|
|3 gallons per minute||2 to 2.5 gallons per minute||Turn off water when not needed.|
|40-55 gallons per load||18-25 gallons a load||Wash full loads. Use a machine which has water level settings.|
|15 gallons per load||Wash full loads. Use a machine with wash settings.|
|3 to 10 gallons per minute||Use a hose with cut off nozzle so water runs only when needed.|
|Toilet||6 gallons per flush||1.6 gallons per flush||Don’t flush trash/insects.|
|Tooth-brushing with water running||3 gallons per minute||1.5 gallons per minute||Turn off water when not needed.|
|Hand dishwashing||3 gallons per minute||2.2 gallons per minute||Fill a basin with water to rinse.|
|Other uses||10 gallons per minute|