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Conservation of Water Resources

            Water is one of the most important natural resource. About 70% of the earth’s surface is covered with water, but that does not men we have all the want and need through infinity. Though most of the earth’s surface is covered with water, a very small percentage of that water volume can be used for drinking. The seas and oceans are salt water bodies and hence cannot be used for drinking unless, perhaps, a technology can be invented to separate or filter salt minerals from water to make salt water fresh.

            There are different fresh water systems that serve as the sources of water like lakes, rivers, and underground fresh water. In all the fresh water systems available, not only human beings benefit, but also other living things that share this planet with us. Ironically, the most intelligent species, who are aware of the possible shortage of water resources, are the ones seemingly causing the problem consciously and unconsciously. Consciously causing the problem, though, does not mean deliberately doing what is aggravating the condition of our water resources, but doing them despite knowledge of the drawbacks of what they are doing.

            In 1950, an article in The Saturday Evening Post showed the threat of shortage in water supply by showing the large areas of the Ashokan water reservoir usually covered with water, but revealing the beds. Experts have seen the problem coming since the middle of the 20th century, but the problem has not been given much attention by many of the people. The problem of water shortage the threats of have water shortage are prevalent problems not only in the United States, but also in all parts of the world (Powledge, 1982, p. 714).

            If the problem persists and the people do not do anything to solve the problem and prevent from getting worse, there are certain bad effects that can affect the lives of people. As the universal solvent, we use water in so many things especially cooking and cleaning. It is perhaps impossible to wash clothes or the dishes without water. There may be dry cleaning services, but the cost of dry cleaning is quite expensive. Whenever we take a bath we need water. When we get thirsty, we need water or a water based beverage to quench our thirst. Hence, life without water is clearly impossible. Bennett (1950, p.132) said,

“Taken together, our existing and prospective water difficulties amount to a very serious national water sickness, contracted as part of our rapid national development and hidden for years by the lingering memory of our original abundance (Bennett, 1950, p.132).”

            Because of the status of the United States as the most powerful nation on earth, many Americans seem to overlook the possibility that the things they enjoy now may be gone tomorrow, like water. Now, the crisis with water is no longer just about quantity, but also with quality. Because of the increasing population, water demand also increases, and as the industries grow in number so does further demand for water. And what does it have to do with the quality of water? In most cases, the water used in different purposes is of the same quality as the one used for drinking purposes. Whenever people go to the toilet and flush the urine and fecal matters, they use fresh water. And how much water is also needed whenever washing machines are used to wash clothes as contrasted to the amount of water used in hand washing?

In industries water is essential in making work efficient and in producing certain products. For example, “1000 gallons of water is needed to produce one pond of rayon, 300 gallons to produce one barrel of beer, 10 gallons for a gallon of gasoline, and 65,000 gallons for a ton of highly finished steel (Bennett, 1950 p. 153).” Water is also essential in fighting fire and whenever there is fire numerous gallons of water is used to put it off. In most cases clean potable fresh water is also used in cleaning the streets, garbage disposal, and sprinkling the lawns. Even in golf courses, several gallons of fresh water are needed to fill artificial ponds.

             Most of the uses of water mentioned are not those that we can live without. For instance, we need steel for building and gasoline as fuel of our industries and vehicles. The plants in the lawns help in producing more oxygen for a well balanced ecosystem. Cleaning without flushing out the dirt with water may not be complete in most cases. Agricultural lands cannot use polluted water or salt water for irrigation. Hence, in as much as we want to save water there are things that cannot be helped without drawbacks. However, there are ways to minimize the problem by involving the members of the community and counting on the responsibility of the members to do their share as much as they receive their share of water everyday – both paid and free.

            If water crisis indeed takes its toll, humans and other organisms will be greatly affected. In the end the effect of water crisis on other living organisms will also take its toll on humans. For instance, low levels of water in fresh water systems a affect the growth and number of fish and other fresh water products. This can lead to food shortage, and in shortage of supplies comes the rise of prices. Furthermore, water crisis can increase the cost of water supply and hence add up to the financial burden of the people.

            The government has spent billions for water conservation in the past, but the methods done by the government does not measure up to the lifelong needs of the people (Bennett, 1950, p. 154). In the end it is a responsible lifestyle that may save everyone from the threat of water crisis (Powledge, 1982, p. 715). The development of watersheds and reservoirs can but maximize what nature provides and prevent wastage due to natural causes. However, there are problems that may also rise as in the case of Rockland County, N.Y. Though there is a functional reservoir that provides water to the people, records show that the demand and water supply are in a very crucial proportion that a small decrease in the amount of rainfall can cause as serious drought (Water Shortages in Northeast Linked to Human Activity, 2006). This case may not be only for this patch of land, but also for other parts of the country and the world. Yet, with efficient reservoirs serving the needs of the people, there is a chance that an efficient lifestyle in water conservation can help extend the availability of potable water.

            Presently, there are certain lifestyles connected to health practices and hygiene that may be altered. For instance, we have been taught that drinking eight glasses of water a day can keep us healthy or this is just what most people understand about the medical suggestions about the need of our body for water. We often miss out the proposition that we also consume water from different food that we eat every day in different meals. Water is essential to our body but too much water may also be bad for the health (depending on the age).

Now, many researchers and doctors disagree with the advice of consuming “4 oz of water” daily. Instead, they advise that people drink only when they are thirsty (American Physiological Society, 2004). The issue here is more than just about the health of individuals. The extent of the essence of the issue can be further take to the need to conserve water. If it is not at all necessary to drink six gasses of eight of ten glasses of water everyday to ensure good health, then people can start saving two or more liters of water weekly, which yields to 52 to 104 liters of water a year per individual, that is, up to 104 million liters of water every year. That is equivalent to about up to 25 gallons of water every year.

But the lifestyle change is not only in the daily intake of water. Another important part of life is taking a bath in shower. Water used in wetting oneself in taking a bath touches the body and flows down to the floor and then to the drainage with no other use. Powledge (1982) suggested that we take a bucket with us when we take a shower to catch the water so it can be used for other purposes like flushing the toilet or sprinkling the lawn (Powledge, 1982, p. 716). That could save another volume of fresh water for drinking purposes.

Saving water does not have to be very difficult. It just has to be part of the lifestyle – a way of life doing a little more apart from what we are usually doing. Being able to save water does not only save water per se. For example, in the United States, about 3% of the total energy consumption is for the management of water distribution. Both the government and the people have to make that 3% count, but aside from fresh water usage in other purposes where “used water” may be good enough, there are also leaks in many pipes, wasting another certain volume of water every minute. In that case, water and the energy used to distribute water to the community are wasted (AWWA Water Loss Control Commission, 2003, p. 72; United States General Accounting Office, 2004, p. 52). This is a case I which both the public and the government have to work together to achieve the desired results of water conservation. The public should report the cases of leaks and the government should act on the reports immediately to avoid further loss.

Powledge (1982) suggested not flushing urine in toilets to save water (Powledge, 1982, p. 716). The idea may be very unsanitary for some, so another option may be the use of waterless urinal systems instead of water sealed latrines. This may be probable with industries and buildings that can afford to change their toilet systems and homes that are just about to be constructed. In fact, there are buildings that have already shifted from water flushed urinals to waterless urinals.   The probability of having households reconstruct their toilets to have the waterless urinal system may be low. However, it’s worth to try. In the first place, the savings will be worth more than the amount that will be spent in reconstruction. But for now, waterless urinals are available only for males. A model of waterless urinal for females may be necessary. Nevertheless, if the water used in taking a shower can be saved in a bucket, as well as the water used in rinsing clothes and dishes, then, flushing the toilet in homes will not be a waste of fresh water.

Another thing to look into is carwash. Most car owners who wash their own cars may be doing so to save on the expense of, without their knowledge, of using more water than if they were to have their cars washed in carwash stations. The money they save may be more than what they will save in the water bill if they have their cars washed in carwash stations but the water that could be saved plus their energy and time may be worth the penny.

In the light of all these, it seems that a major step that the global community can take in saving water is reusing it as much as possible. In doing so, households would need containers where it is possible to store water and make water available for use as soon as it is needed. How to set up these containers efficiently and how water collection can be done efficiently is a matter that may need some new research and even inventions or at least some innovations. The research would need to consider how much water is can be collected for reuse and make it the basis of the size of containers where the water would be placed and for storage.  Storage has to be fast and efficient so as not to take so much time. At the same time, since we are talking about conservation, another consideration that has to be looked into is the amount that will be spent for the facilities that would allow the immediate reusing of water for specific purposes.

The table below shows the sustainability plan for the water conservation project though reusing and lessening of water consumption.

Action Items

(in the correct order)
Action Steps
Timeline
Research and identify the possible ways water can be conserved

Amount of water that can possibly be collected for reuse from an individual to a family
Amount of water that can be saved if the water can be reused
Possible containers of water for reuse
Amount that will be spent for the upgrading of household facilities (if needed) to enable the reuse of water
Computation of the amount of money that will be saved (if ever) by reusing water and lessening water consumption

Review environmental Web sites and journals.

Document the sources of air pollution and both environmental and health effects of air pollution.

Document video interviews of environmental researchers and facilitators.

Document observation in households that have agreed to participate in the research

Development of facilities that may be used for efficient collection and storage of water to be reused

Development of house designs that are pro-water reusing and conservation.
Month 1-3
Develop an education program about water conservation.
Develop a presentation about why this program is needed and include the data about the previous droughts and water shortages in different regions in the country and the world.

The presentation should also include the ways by which humans have been wasting fresh water unconsciously and consciously and how to conserve water at home and in public and private places.

Introduce in the presentation any facilities designed to aid the conservation of water

Include in the presentation false beliefs about the consumption and use of water (e.g. drinking eight glasses of water daily, washing your own car to save money, and others.)
Month 1-3
Schedule a presentation day and time.
Attend a monthly HOA meeting to present the benefits of the program.

Request the HOA board add the presentation to the following month’s agenda.

Document the audio and visual equipment needed for presentation and layout of the room.
Month 4
Identify and invite community participants.
Tally the number of homes in the community.

Create and distribute flyers to homes announcing the next HOA meeting and the educational program that will be introduced.
Month 4-5
Publish the study in the internet
Gain access to free website developers and look for sponsors that may help publish the study for more people to see it.
Month 4-5

            The plan can help households save water not just for the sake of lowering their water bills, but more importantly to save water per se for future consumption. Proper water consumption (especially drinking the right amount of water) can free people from false beliefs about water intake and use. However, the plan may require most people to change their lifestyles. If the presentation of the facts and the persuasion of the presentation and the online document will be convincing, then, it is possible to have advocates buying the idea of reusing water through the suggestions given in the presentation as developed in the study. One possible problem may be with the urban communities where there may be not enough space for the storage of water intended for reusing. Perhaps that should e another consideration that has to be taken in the research.

            Al that is needed from the public is cooperation and participation (and perhaps purchase of the possible products that may be developed). The government, on the other hand may help by strict enforcement of the law of water conservation. For instance, fresh water should not be used for sprinkling the lawn (conditions should be made clear). If possible, reusing water in government buildings and offices should also be enforced.

References

American Physiological Society (2004). Just How Much Water Do We Really Need? The answer Depends on Our Age. EurekAlert. Retrieved June 13, 2008, from

            http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2004-02/aps-jhm022404.php

American Water Works Association Water Loss Control Committee (2003). Applying Worldwide BPMS in Water Loss Control. August, 98.5, pp. 65-81.

Bennet, H. H. (1950). Warning: The Water Problem is National. The Saturday Evening Post. May 13, pp. 32, 153-157.

Powledge, F. (1982). The Next ‘Energy Crisis’: Water, Water, Running Out. The Nation. June 12, pp. 1, 714-718.

The Earth Institute at Columbia University (2006). Water Shortages in Northeast Linked to Human Activity. Retrieved June 14 2008, from http://www.earth.columbia.edu/news/2006/story05-12-06.php

United States General Accounting Office (2004). Watershed Management: Better Coordination of Data Collection Efforts Needed to Support Key Decisions. GAO-04-382, p. 52.

 

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