It's difficult to remember that other areas of the world are increasingly getting drier due to global climate change and the loss of topsoil due to industrial agricultural practices (less plant life + less trees = less moisture captured in an area). Since we tend to get so much steady rain in Seattle, I usually don't consider water shortages as the top of my list of things to worry about. But it should.
For many people in the rest of the world, that's not at all the case. In fact, water is a resource people are and will fight more and more over. Riparian rights and state's rights over water resources have been and still are a huge issue in America's southwest and will only get worse as a large growing population drains aquifers with little replenishing them.
Here are some cheery facts I received in my email from Sustainable Ballard:
• While the average American uses 150 gallons of water per day, those in developing countries cannot find five. (www.charitywater.org)
• The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns. (www.water.org)
• A water footprint, or virtual water, is the amount of water used in the entire production and/or growth of a specific product. For example, 2.2 lbs of beef has a water footprint of 4,226.8 gallons; one sheet of paper has a water footprint of 2.6 gallons; one cup of tea has a water footprint of 9.2 gallons; and one microchip has a water footprint of 8.5 gallons. (CircleofBlue.org)
•Water is a $400 billion dollar global industry; the third largest behind electricity and oil. (CBS News, FLOW the film)
• There are over 116,000 human-made chemicals that are finding their way into public water supply systems. (William Marks, author of Water Voices from Around the World, FLOW the film.)
• According to the National Resources Defense Council, in a scientific study in which more than 1,000 bottles of 103 brands of water were tested, about one-third of the bottles contained synthetic organic chemicals, bacteria, and arsenic. (www.nrdc.org)
When we lived in California, I was much more concerned about water availability, mostly because I was reminded of how arid it was every day. In fact, my husband used to have nightmares of turning on the tap and having brown, muddy water come out. But, now that we are back in the land of wetness, those thoughts are not so pressing.
Do you feel like scarcity and health of the world's fresh water sources is an issue? Or is it so far down your list of concerns you don't really think about it?
Related books: For an awesome book about water and the American West, check out Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, Revised Edition