It’s a difficult prospect to think about, but all environmental signs point toward an ever-decreasing water supply. With drought-like conditions extending from coast to coast and water shortages plaguing the entire globe, the world has to practice water responsibility or else the thought of a doomsday drought will become a reality. With H2O consciousness in mind, here are some causes of water shortages as well as a few ways Americans can address the planet’s water problem.
What Causes Water Shortages?
There are a number of factors that play a role in worldwide water shortages. Regional weather patterns always come into play when discussing droughts and water shortages, but humans are also directly responsible for the lack in fresh water. Here are just a few reasons:
- Overpopulation – The Earth’s population has doubled in size in the past 50 years and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Because of this, overpopulation is causing overuse, which is depleting the world’s water at faster rates.
- Pollution – From pesticide and fertilizer runoff to untreated wastewater, world populations are polluting groundwater and other fresh water resources at an alarming rate. This includes introducing toxic substances into groundwater via industrial processes, which is a growing concern in the U.S. and other countries.
- Agriculture – Although crops, grains, and other agricultural products are a necessity, the agricultural process uses upward of 70 percent of the world’s freshwater, including local resources like lakes and rivers as well as underground resources like aquifers.
- Global Warming – The effects of global warming are causing unprecedented droughts, which are the main cause of water shortages.
When water resources are tapped, it begins to affect surrounding ecosystems. For example, wetlands across the planet are disappearing at a rapid rate because of drought and overuse by surrounding populations. Wetlands are essential to a functioning ecosystem and are a form of natural water filtration, which is all the more reason to practice water conservation.
Likewise, water shortages also cause problems for nations in drought prone regions in the form of water wars. When neighboring countries suffer from drought, the lack of water actually causes disputes over water rights, which becomes a political issue as well as an environmental one.
Protecting the world’s water supply starts at home by practicing water conservation. Americans are known for using more water than any other country, so it’s important to control usage regularly. Here are a few ways to do just that.
- Showering – The number one cause of in-home water waste is showering. A minute of shower time uses gallons of water, so it’s helpful to take shorter showers and use low-flow shower heads.
- Water Filtration – Local water sources have a surprising amount of salt that’s found naturally within the water supply. Salt is a water absorber and thus creates thirst, which is why salt-free water systems are a great alternative to water softeners and can help stop overuse by reducing in-home water consumption.
- Aerators – Mesh faucet aerators help reduce in-home water usage by adding air to the water during the flow process, which provides better water pressure while using less water.
- Landscape Watering – If showering is the number one water waster, then sprinklers and garden hoses are definitely number two. But, watering before noon and after nightfall requires less water because water evaporation isn’t as extreme during these times.
The Future of Water
The world’s water supply is decreasing rapidly. Although the planet consists mostly of water, only 3 percent of the world’s water supply is fresh. Likewise, the U.S. alone uses 400 billion gallons of water everyday. With numbers like this along with other sobering water facts, water stewardship is more important than ever.
Practicing water stewardship means being conscious of personal water usage as well as spreading the word about shortage concerns. Likewise, there are organizations and events like World Water Day that promote water conservation and raises awareness of droughts and other water shortages that not only affect the United States, but the entire world.
Knowing about worldwide water shortage issues is the first step in preventing a doomsday drought that could leave the planet and its inhabitants crippled.
Anine Davis is a freelance writer from New Jersey. Besides writing, her hobbies include skiing, traveling, kayaking and photography. You can reach Annie at firstname.lastname@example.org