Water, water everywhere…

…and, for about a billion people in the world, not a drop to drink–that is, not a clean, healthy drop.


Today is Blog Action Day 2010. Every year on October 15, bloggers throughout the world participate in this event by posting about that year’s topic. This year, the topic is water.


Think about this:

  • Every week, nearly 38,000 children under the age of 5 die from unsafe drinking water and unhygienic living conditions.
  • African women walk over 40 billion hours each year carrying cisterns weighing up to 18 kilograms to gather water, which is usually still not safe to drink.
  • Many scholars attribute the conflict in Darfur at least in part to lack of access to water. A report commissioned by the UN found that in the 21st century, water scarcity will become one of the leading causes of conflict in Africa. (And it’s already causing problems in the Middle East.)
  • While the developing world faces a water crisis, those in industrialized countries consume far more than their fair share. (Twenty-four liters of water to produce a hamburger. Half a liter of water to charge an iPhone. The production of a cotton t-shirt takes 1,514 liters of water.)
  • People in the USA drinking an average of 200 bottles of water per person each year. (And over 17 million barrels of oil are needed to manufacture those water bottles, 86 percent of which will never be recycled.)
  • Every day, two million tons of human waste are disposed of in water sources
  • Death and disease caused by polluted coastal waters cost the global economy $12.8 billion a year.
  • Today, 40% of America’s rivers and 46% of America’s lakes are too polluted for fishing, swimming, or aquatic life.

In July 2010 the United Nations declared access to clean water and sanitation a universal human right. A declaration without action is meaningless, and obviously there’s a long way to go before everyone has clean water. Getting to that point is going to take a lot of work, but there are things you can do to help:

  • Stop contributing to pollution runoff to help keep our rivers and streams clean.
  • Calculate your own water footprint.
  • Take a look at how much water is needed to produce some of your favorite foods and products…and maybe reexamine your consumption patterns.
  • Support organizations such as and Charity:Water in their efforts to bring fresh water to communities in the developing world.
  • Stop using bottled water. Most of the water sold in bottles is municipal water repackaged for dupes; the few products that are truly “mineral” water are transported long distances, at great cost to the environment. The manufacture of bottles (most of which aren’t recycled) uses a lot of resources, and of course the money people spend on this stuff could be much better used elsewhere. Get a reusable SIGG/Kleen Kanteen/whatever (seriously–there are a gazillion inexpensive choices out there for BPA-free reusable bottles) and fill it up with water from your tap. (Don’t like the taste of your tap water? Filter it! But for goodness sakes stop killing the planet with bottled water!)

Most importantly, SPREAD THE WORD. Most people with reliable access to clean water take it for granted. Reminders about its scarcity can make us all more mindful about how we use it–and how to help others get it.


One Response to “Water, water everywhere…”

  1. Chrison 18 Oct 2010 at 8:18 pm

    A good reminder…