“Our World?” What are we doing with our water? How we abuse the substance of life, is beyond me!
Most of the earth is covered in water, approximately 70%. Of that 70%, 97% of the earth’s water is saltwater, leaving 3% freshwater, the water that is able to sustain human life. And of that 3%, roughly 99% is in glaciers and ice caps or in water tables too deep to access. This leaves us with 1% of the world’s total freshwater supply available for human use, animals and irrigation. Most experts frame the issue as one of access vs. scarcity, meaning that our water shortages are caused by irresponsible water management.
Water is critical to supporting human life, animal life and our food supply, yet our water ecosystems are in danger from poor management: increasing use and demand, environmental events such as changes in rainfall patterns, industrial pollution, waste and mismanagement of water resources.
Consider demographic factors such as increasing population, particularly in countries like China and India. Couple that with indiscriminate use in richer countries, like the United States, where we use potable water for our toilets when gray water (“recycled” water) can do, and where technologies exist for conserving water exist but yet are not used widely.
Pollution: Globally, industrial and domestic effluents are dumped into rivers, lakes and reservoirs, polluting our freshwater.
Inefficient water infrastructure and irrigation systems lose water; for example, in many irrigation systems as little as 37% of the water is actually used by crops due to seepage, runoff or evaporation. By the way, 70% of our freshwater is used for irrigation.
According to the United Nations, about 1 in 5 people on the planet do not have access to safe drinking water. 2 in 5 people do not have access to clean water to wash with, clean with or go to the bathroom with.
There are concerted efforts in the international community to discuss this. 192 countries in the United Nations have committed resources and signed off on the Millennium Development Goals. One of these goals is to reduce by half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and.
The shrinking water resource: there is a pressing global urgency to improve our management of water use. Climate change has reduced rainfall across wide areas of the earth. Dams have a limited life span of around 50 years associated with the build up of silt, significantly reducing their capacity, with approximately a 1% loss in capacity per year. Likewise groundwater is being rapidly depleted in wide areas of the world. (See below) A lot of this wastage can be traced back to large and sometimes hidden subsidies of water. In the US, some farmers pay as little as 1 to 5 cents per kilolitre where the public may pay 30 to 80 cents from the same source. The annual government subsidy in the US for irrigation infrastructure and supply is between 2.5 to 4.4 billion dollars. Worldwide the average annual subsidy 94/98 was around $15 billion. This subsidy hardly encourages conservation, and is not money well spent if it is used to grow animal feed.
The use of irrigation to grow animal feed is an unacceptable waste of natural resources. The problem for the environment is substantially magnified when irrigation is used to grow animal feed. In the US, about a 40% of irrigated land is used to grow feed crops compared to about 13% for fruit and vegetable production. By volume, the waste is even more impressive: about 60% of all irrigation water is used for animal feed production (Jacobson 06).
The use of ground water for irrigation of feed crops is even more irresponsible.
About 30% of all fresh water in the world is stored as groundwater. Most of this has accumulated over millions of years with an average recharge rate of between 0.1% to 3% per year. Hence this is a limited resource but currently supplying just under a quarter of the world’s water requirements (Pimentel 04). In many parts of the world, ground water is used extensively for irrigation, much of which is used to grow stock feed. However, in many of these regions, extraction exceeds replacement, the so-called use of fossil water, a non-renewable resource. These region include the western United States, northern China, northern and western India, Egypt, and West Asia and North Africa. Rapidly dropping water tables have been noted, requiring deeper and deeper wells
It is a fact, we are running out of water! How you use it is up to you. Its your life and Mine that is at stake! Hotdogfish!
- Laundry to Landscape: Graywater irrigation is a process of… (sf.curbed.com)
- Irrigation Development in Cambodia in 2011 (trustbuilding.wordpress.com)
- Water makes us lucky (homepaddock.wordpress.com)