Do we really need water?

Written by Kajsa IngelssonJune 24, 2017

It’s a silly question, isn’t it. Of course we do. Not only us, but the whole planet and her eco system needs freshwater. Freshwater = water that’s not in the ocean. Since the oceans contain almost 96,5% of all water, it doesn’t leave that much to spare. It’s been plenty enough up until now. Unfortunately we are now in a freshwater shortage. Maybe it’s hard for you to believe if all you have to do is turn on your tap and out comes a clean and steady stream.

But what if I tell you that NASA conducted a ten-year study of the thirty-seven largest groundwater sources around the globe and the results of this study is anything but chipper.

Of the 37 aquifers (waterholes), 21 is being depleted at an unsustainable rate. Of these 21, eight are being classified as seriously overstressed, meaning there’s little or no recharge of water going into them at the present time.

They are on their way of being sucked dry, something that would be disastrous and lethal for all life forms depending on them. We are talking about entire ecosystems collapsing here.

So what the hell is going on? Where’s all the water going?

Firstly: Agriculture. In fact, irrigation water for agriculture is the single largest cause of groundwater depletion around the world.

The most stressed aquifer in the United States is the California Central Valley Aquifer where agricultural operations are heavy. The thing with Cali is that they grow one of the most thirsty crops in the world: almonds. Now I am asking myself, is it really justified to crow thirsty crops in a dgroughtstricken place? NO. Check this post out to choose another plan based milk to love.

Other areas such as India rely almost exclusively on groundwater to feed their crops. Globally, agriculture uses about 70 percent of the world’s available freshwater, and one-third of that is used to grow the grain fed to livestock.

In the U.S., the average dairy farm can use up to 3.4 million gallons of water per day between all of these processes. To put that into perspective, it takes around the same amount of water to produce one gallon (3,5 L) of milk as an entire month’s worth of showers!

The meat industry is no better in terms of water usage; the average burger requires around 1,800 gallons (6814 L) of water to produce.

Second on the list are some industries such as the mining and fossil fuel extraction. These two industries both rely heavily on water, making them a big part of the problem.

Third on the list is the fashion industry. It takes a lot of water to grow the materials as well as process them into garments.

Roughly two billion people around the world rely on groundwater as their source of fresh water. This means, when we are sucking the wells dry, 2000000000 people risk of losing access to clean water. The areas most at risk are India, Pakistan, the Arabian Peninsula, and Northern Africa. In fact, the Arabian Aquifer System which supports 60 million people was found to be the most stressed aquifer on the planet.

Well, shit. What can we do?

Goods news is, you can do a lot of easy tweaks to change this!

  • Watch your water use around the house. It is easy to waste water without really realizing it. Take shorter showers, turn off the tap as you are brushing your teeth, only water your garden in the late afternoons/evenings. The list is long. want more examples? Check this post out.