Josh Bolinger: The big water issue
Water is one of the biggest things we as Americans take for granted. I think most of us dont realize just how much water we use and how important it is to our daily habits. Its a part of nearly everything we do, from eating, washing, cleaning and of course drinking.
If you put some numbers on it, its easier to visualize what that impact is. Consider that you should be drinking no less than 1/2 a gallon of water a day — then consider that a single toilet flush is more than 10 times that amount; about 5 gallons. Your total water waste is over 70 gallons every single day; or enough to feed 140 people each day.
It wasnt until I was living in South America that I became painfully aware of this daily asset. Even in the major cities, when the water tanks run dry during the summer (around christmas), we could go days without the ability to shower, clean dishes, cook or drink water. With no air conditioning the houses would wreak of dirty dishes, clothes and toilets – the south american summer would cook all the smells together and without the protection of window screens, call in the mosquitoes, flies and other insects to take over. Days in the relentless heat, un able to cool off or clean the sweat from your body. Meals pieced together with what we could, trying to use as few dishes as possible and making trips to get bottled water. Everyday, just hoping and praying for rain. And although these periods were extremely uncomfortable and strenuous it was still a vast improvement over other areas of the continent then endure a worse torture every day of the year. We often hear how difficult living is in these areas but we can never full appreciate their challenges until we are forced to walk in their shoes, even just for a few steps.
But the growing issue with water is reaching beyond developing countries. Here in the united states, major cities have been in drought crisis for years, even after rain and flooding, there just isnt enough fresh water to satisfy the demand. Cities are forced to implement water restrictions on residents, import water from other cities or states and some areas resorting to extreme measures by experimenting with reusing waste water or desalinization.
On a world that is 98% water, its crazy to think that we are literally running out of fresh water to use, the supply just cant keep up with the demand. Is it possible that our first world nations could be living with the water limitations of developing countries? Will it be at that point we start paying attention and putting our minds towards the issue?
With technology and some creative thinking, I believe we can innovate to prevent a world wide epidemic while releasing developing countries from their torture.