Water is a renewable resource. We all know about the water cycle, where water on Earth gets circulated and recycled naturally.
So, why is it so important for us to conserve water if it gets naturally recycled? And, why are there places like California, USA that keep on suffering water shortages?
The short answer is because different stages of the water cycle can take a long time to complete. Water can also be located in different areas of the world, at uneven quantities. This means that sometimes, depending on your location, water can be very difficult to access.
However, there are also other reasons why conserving water is important. Read on below to find out more about the water cycle, water shortages, and conserving water.
What is the water cycle?
There is a finite amount of water on Earth.
What does this mean?
The amount of water on Earth will always remain the same. But, in the process of the water cycle, water on Earth gets naturally recycled and moved around different parts of the Earth.
You can watch this video to learn about the specifics of the water cycle.
Now, since the total amount of water on Earth is always the same, water is a renewable resource. Water sources get replenished by the water cycle, and the Earth will never run out of water.
Why conserve water if it’s a renewable resource?
Water is renewable, and the Earth will never run out of water. However, this doesn’t mean that water will always be easily accessible.
Different parts of the water cycle can take different amounts of time to complete. Therefore, water cycled by the water cycle can be sometimes hard to access.
For example, it could take thousands of years for water that is hidden deep underground to cycle and fall back to Earth as precipitation. The same is true for water that is frozen as glaciers.
This all becomes important when we think of our usage of water. Humans mainly use water in the form of freshwater. If freshwater in the water cycle is hard for us to access, then it can’t be used by humans.
For example, water that is frozen in glaciers is very difficult, if not impossible to extract for human use. Likewise, it is very difficult and expensive to harvest freshwater from the saltwater ocean.
In fact, 97.5% of all water on Earth is saltwater. Only 2.5% of all water on Earth is freshwater, and of that 2.5%, the majority is permanently frozen, unavailable for our use. (Source).
The location of usable freshwater on Earth also plays a part in the availability of water.
What does this mean?
Take this case for example: An abundance of freshwater in North America won’t do much to relieve a water shortage in Africa.
Similarly, rain in New York City wouldn’t do much to help if there was a water shortage in San Francisco.
The bottom line?
Water is not very portable. Therefore, if water in one area gets used up too quickly, there could be a water shortage.
What’s more, the water cycle doesn’t always replenish water right away. For example, if an underground water source (aquifer) gets completely drained, it could take thousands of years for it to be refilled again.
So, even though water on the Earth as a whole is renewable, in areas with little precipitation, water becomes nonrenewable at a local level. This is also true for areas that use up water faster than it can be naturally replenished.
This is why it’s important to conserve water, especially if you live in an area that is prone to droughts and water shortages.
Should you Conserve Water if you live in a Water-rich Area?
Conserving water is important even if you live in an area with lots of water resources.
No matter how common a resource is, the supply will deplete if it is used too much (or wasted).
For example, let’s say you live somewhere that has a lot of groundwater resources.
We all know that groundwater can take a long time to be replenished by the water cycle. So, what happens when all the groundwater gets pumped out, and used?
As you can see, even if there is an apparent abundance of usable water, we should save the resource anyway.
We don’t know what unpredictable events may happen, which could threaten our water supply.
This is especially true as lately, due to climate change, there has been an increase in freak weather events. An unexpected dry spell could soon arrive in your area, which could contribute to a drought.
Read on below to learn how you can save water by taking simple steps, and save money at the same time!
How to Conserve Water: Simple and Effective Ideas
Now you know that water is a precious resource that we can’t afford to waste.
Unfortunately, many people needlessly use a lot of water, without even knowing.
Below, I compiled a list of ways you can conserve water, including tips about lifestyle choices that potentially waste a lot of hidden water.
Read the tips and details, and take action to conserve water right now:
1. Eat less meat
We’ve all heard that eating a meat-free diet could save water and help the environment. But, just how much water does it take to produce meat?
Take this statistic into account: It takes about 3496 litres (924 gallons) of water just to produce one 8-ounce beef steak. That’s enough water to fill 44 bath tubs!
Even if ate one less beef steak each year, you would be saving 44 bathtubs of water. That’s a lot of water.
You may be wondering why it takes so much water to produce meat. Here’s a breakdown of the water footprint of meats (water footprint is the total amount of water needed to produce a product).
The majority of the water used to produce livestock is used to grow their food. This includes growing crops like grain, grass, etc.
Generally, meats have a higher water footprint than their crop counterparts. This is true even when measured by water footprint per calorie or protein.
You can learn more about the water footprint of specific food products using the Product Gallery on waterfootprint.org.
2. Reduce food waste
As you already know, meat has a huge water footprint. But, it also takes a lot of water to produce crops and plants (just not as much as meat).
It is estimated that around 30-40% of all food in the US is wasted.
If every household could reduce their amount of food waste, they would subsequently save a lot of water.
Learn more in this article I wrote about the amount of water needed to make typical US meals.
3. Spend less time in the shower
There is a common misconception that baths use more water than showers.
However, this may not always be true. With the rise of “power showers”, an average 8 minute shower uses double the amount of water a bath uses.
Power showers use booster pumps to increase the water flow. They therefore use more water and electricity than normal showers.
And, even normal showers use almost as much water as a bath.
Spending just one minute less in a shower per day could save an average of 6200 litres (1638 gallons) of water each year.
4. Check your plumbing for leaks
Make sure that you regularly check your kitchen and bathroom for water leaks.
Fixing a small water leak won’t save you as much water as some of the other tips on this list. But, over time, a small leak could waste quite a bit of water.
Trust me: just get any water leak checked out and fixed as soon as possible.
5. Make good use of your clothing
One way to save water is to buy less clothes and to donate old, unwanted ones.
You’re probably wondering, “How will this save water?” Here’s how:
Clothes are made from materials like cotton, which have to be grown. The growing process takes up land space, and requires water. Processing and manufacturing of clothes also require water.
It is estimated that it takes 9982 litres (2637 gallons) of water to make a pair of jeans. That’s the equivalent of 125 bathtubs full of water!
By donating your clothing for someone else to use, it means that they won’t have to buy new clothing, which would take water to create.
And, by simply buying less clothing, you will lower your water footprint and create less demand for clothing.
Saving water is important, even if it is a renewable resource. This is because if too much water is withdrawn from one place too quickly, water can become nonrenewable at a local level.
Share this article and raise awareness about water conservation and our world’s water shortage issues. Take action and start conserving water!