Water is essential to life. However, it is also an extremely limited resource. Water scarcity is a severe problem that needs solutions immediately to ensure our survival. Overpopulation, as well as severe drought and climate change, have taken their toll on our natural water supplies. We are consuming water at a much faster rate than nature can replenish the supply.
The Colorado River, which provides water to 40 million people throughout seven US states and two in Mexico, is a prime example of this problem. The river has experienced a 15% reduction inflow over the last 50 years. According to scientists, this reduction is due to a hotter planet due to greenhouse gases, increased demand for water from farms, businesses, homes, and an ongoing 20-year drought. With the river drying up, deep well installations have also significantly reduced groundwater stored in underground aquifers.
The city of Los Angeles, California alone, for example, uses over half a billion gallons of water EVERY DAY. That is a staggering amount for just one city. Multiply that by the number of cities on the planet - all those showers, toilets flushing, garden lawns and even dishwashers and more, and that's just what we consume at home.
All other industries also use freshwater, especially the agricultural and manufacturing industries. Every item we use and food item we eat needed gallons upon gallons of freshwater when produced, grown, and harvested. It's not hard to see why water shortages are happening daily all over the country and the world.
However, human beings can't just stop using water altogether. Though the situation is truly dire, there are solutions. Many experts worldwide are currently working very hard to find ways to bring us back from the brink of a permanent lack of water. Water conservation is now the foundation of building and landscaping codes and more in places like Las Vegas. Water replenishment into the aquifers is also another solution.
In Arizona, farmers are going back to basics, planting indigenous wheat crops that thrive on the dry climate and use less water instead of water-hungry cotton plants. Going vegan - or at least cutting back on eating meat - is another way to save water, especially since it takes 1800 gallons to raise just one head of cattle.
We can't - and shouldn't - rely on experts alone, though. We need to take part and do what we can, no matter how small, to save water. It could be as small as not pre-rinsing your plates before you put them into your dishwasher, upgrading your toilets to newer high efficiency, low flush models, installing a low flow shower and changing the way you water your lawn.
Small changes, when applied by many people, become big changes. Averting a water crisis is finding the middle ground between modern convenience and the health of our planet. Hopefully, we can all embrace small changes and work together to save our future.