Derham 1 Mark Derham Professor Jessie B. Powell English 102 28 November 2008 Water Consumption: A Hidden Crisis?

There is a situation that is continuing to worsen every day, and many people have never even heard of the problem. It affects four out of every ten people, and every single continent in the world (WHO). This crisis is water scarcity and how the world continues to over consume water. Currently, countries in North Africa and most of the Middle East as well as parts of the United States, Europe, South America, India and China are feeling the effects of the water shortage (Rogers). In some of these countries, there is an actual physical shortage while in others it is more of an economic water shortage. The World Health Organization stated that “by 2025, nearly two billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water shortage” (WHO). This means these people will not have enough water to stay healthy. The situation continues to decline as populations worldwide rapidly increase and more and more water is used both domestically and industrially (WHO). The situation must be addressed, and it must be addressed immediately otherwise everyone everywhere will begin to suffer even more so than they already are. The issue of water scarcity will not fix itself. There are several issues that need to be resolved, both in the short term and in the long term. The first step that needs to be taken is to fix the current government policies that are further exasperating the situation. Most countries have a national strategy to address water concerns, but they are usually

Derham 2 poorly managed and lack cohesion (Oxford). In the short term, individuals need to make an effort to consume less water. Additionally, agricultural industries must strive to be much more efficient with their water usage. In the long term, cutting edge technology must be discovered. Government policy must improve, and international coordination is a necessity. Many of these proposals are easy to accomplish and require minimal money to do so. Current government policies worldwide are lacking when it comes to water management. For example, the United States has over twenty agencies that deal with water from flood control to coastal commissions. These agencies rarely coordinate their policies making concerted solutions very difficult (Oxford). The solution is simple. Stop fragmenting water management among multiple sectors and institutions. Governments currently depend too much on centralized administration in order to control the policies that develop, operate and maintain water systems (Hinrichsen). This must be fixed. Centralized command and decentralized control must be implemented in order to operate water systems effectively. In order for government policy to be righted, governments must first recognize the value of freshwater as a resource and price it at its value (Hinrichsen). If freshwater is undervalued, it will continue to be taken for granted, and it will continue to be abused. The undervaluing of water also means that the quality of water in relation to human health is being over looked. This will also require government water management policies to improve. The health of a nation must be the first priority when it comes to water management.

Derham 3 While government policies are being righted, there are several short term solutions that can be addressed that will improve water conservation efforts. The first solution is local government policy that restricts the amount of water that citizens can use. There are many techniques that can be used to save water that are easy to implement, and they will be discussed further down. Agriculturally speaking, there are several solutions that will solve the overuse of water. Farmers must learn to utilize green water, that is rainfall water that can be taken up by plant roots, on a daily basis instead of using freshwater (Oxford). There are some simple and low tech ways of going about using green water. They are harvesting rainwater; planting roots deeper; better terracing, which is the process of making slopes into steps; and switching from plowing to tilling (Oxford). To go even a step further, farmers can improve their irrigation and reuse urban wastewater (Hinrichsen). These solutions will increase the efficiencies of farms and decrease their overall dependency on the world’s supply of freshwater. The long term solutions are the key to ensure that there is freshwater for generation after generation. The first long term solution is to ensure there is international coordination in order to manage shared water resources. The majority of the world’s main water resources are shared between two or more countries (Hinrichsen). This means that there is always the possible of conflict that will result in water production to decrease. The only way to mitigate this is to ensure that there is international coordination. The second long term solution is by far the most important. Cutting-edge technology for water purification must be developed in order to combat the crisis that will surely continue to slide ever downward (Hinrichsen). Over 75% of the

Derham 4 world is covered in water; most of this water is unusable. Technology must advance in order to harvest this unusable water and raise the current level of usable water. Individual citizens need not worry about all of the political and scientific aspect of the water crisis. There are many water saving tips that can be done around the house that will lower ones overall water usage. They are not only easy to implement, but they will save a bundle on water bills. One can turn off the water while brushing the teeth. Taking shorter showers can significantly reduce water consumption as well as not taking baths. Only wash full loads of laundry, and only turn on the dishwasher when it is completely full. Instead of washing off the steps and drive-way, sweep them off. Wash the car by using a bucket of water, and when it is necessary to use a hose, control the flow with an automatic shutoff nozzle (US EPA). There are a few tips that cost money that can also save water around the house. The first thing is to buy an efficient washing machine and dual washing toilets that allow you to flush the toilet based on what the toilet was used for (US EPA). One can also use collected rainwater for landscape irrigation. Employing low-flow faucet aerators and shower heads also reduce overall water consumption (Schwikert). These tips combined with the free tips will reduce a household’s water consumption by thousands of gallons per year. Water consumption is an issue that must be addressed at every possible level from the individual citizen to the serious farmer to the largest industrial companies. This is not a problem that will fix itself over time. The world must be proactive when tackling this problem and not reactive once it is too late. Government policy must be corrected, so that water management efficiencies increase. The agricultural industry must improve

Derham 5 the use of green water in order to use less freshwater. Individuals must also realize that they can impact this issue as well. Utilizing less water around the house is not only beneficial for the world, but it helps save money as well. It is time that the world realizes that there is a water scarcity problem, and action must be taken to correct it.

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Works Cited World Health Organization. 4 June 2008. World Health Organization. 31 Oct. 2008 Rogers, Peter. "Facing the Freshwater CRISIS. (Cover story)." Scientific American 299.2 (Aug. 2008): 46-53. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. APUS Online Library. 22 Nov. 2008 direct=true&db=aph&AN=33021901&site=ehost-live. Oxford Analytica. “Water policy coordination needed.” International Herald Tribune. 24 July 2008. 31 Oct 2008 Hinrichsen, Don, Robey, Bryant, and Upadhyay, Ushma. “Solutions for a Water-Short World.” Population Reports. Volume XXVI, Number 1. 31 Oct. 2008 United States Environmental Protection Agency Office of Water. June 2002. U.S. EPA. 31 Oct. 2008 Schwikert, Shane, Hall, Alex, and Jen, Mike. “Water Scarcity: Tomorrow's Problem.” University of Michigan. 02 Nov. 2008.

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