Water is a natural resource which is very critical to all life on Earth. Natural resources are things that come from nature. Natural resources are either renewable or non renewable. Some of the Earth’s natural resources are; Soil, Air, and Water. Although the Earth is almost covered in water, it is considered a finite resource which means there is an end to the amount of water that is available for human consumption. Where a population lives and also their quality of life, depends on the availability of potable water. This is so because; of all the water on the Earth’s surface, only about one percent is fresh water that is available for human use. Fresh water is found in rivers, streams, lakes and underground aquifers. Global water consumption is on the rise with the increase in the world’s population and industrialisation. This gives rise to water constraint whereby there is a shortage of water to meet the needs of people. More than one-third of the world’s population live in countries that are facing water constraint. The following is a list of ways water is used for human consumption.
Ten main uses of water
1. Commercial water use refers to fresh water used in motels, hotels, restaurants, office buildings, other commercial facilities, and civilian and military institutions. The restaurant industry is a major source of commercial water usage.
2. Domestic use refers to water that is used in the home every day, for purposes, such as drinking, food preparation, bathing, washing clothes and dishes, flushing toilets, and watering lawns and gardens.
3. Industrial water use is an important resource to a nation’s industries. Industries use large amounts of water for steel, chemical, paper, and petroleum refining. This water is often reused over and over for more than one purpose.
4. Irrigation water use is water artificially applied to farm, orchard, and pasture, crops, for frost and freeze protection among other uses. Irrigation is the largest category of water use worldwide as almost 60% of all the world’s freshwater withdrawals go towards irrigation uses.
5. Livestock water use refers to fresh water utilized for stock animals, feed lots, dairies, fish farms, and other nonfarm needs.
6. Mining water use is used for the extraction of naturally occurring minerals; solids, such as coal and ores; liquids, such as crude petroleum; and gases, such as natural gas.
7. Public Supply water use is the provision of water by public utilities, such as county and municipal water works. It is then delivered to users for domestic, commercial, and industrial purposes.
8. Thermoelectric Power water use is the largest use of water worldwide. It refers to the amount of water used in the production of electric power generated with heat.
9. Aquaculture water use refers to water used for raising creatures that live in water for food, restoration, conservation, or sport. Sea creatures are grown in controlled feeding, sanitation, and harvesting procedures primarily in ponds, flow through raceways, and, to a lesser extent, cages, net pens, and closed-recirculation tanks.
10. Hydroelectric Power is an important source of renewable energy. It is an old method which represents 19% of total electricity production the world over. Hydropower plays a major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the water used to operate it comes from nature as rainfall.
Our world without water
It is hard to imagine a planet such as ours with its abundance of life can exist without water. Three percent of the water that covers the earth is freshwater. Of that three percent only one percent can be used for the sustenance of human life. Sixty-six percent of the human body is made up of water and at just two percent dehydration, performance decreases by around twenty percent. The importance of water is recognized by the smallest child, animal or even plant. The extravagant use of water for agricultural and general household purposes is making fresh water increasingly scarce in many parts of the world. It is ironic however, that although a lot of water is used for domestic purposes, many people do not drink the required amount of water needed to keep the body at peak functioning level. So, already before the water is completely gone, we are depriving ourselves of this life-sustaining substance. Instead we use substitutes, which we are led to believe (due to the ad campaigns of the Industrial and Commercial users of water) are far better than water because they contain energy boosters like electrolytes and caffeine.
The fresh water supply may be completely depleted due to continuous human consumption norms. These norms would include various methods of water use such as commercial, mining and domestic usage. In addition to this, there is the further treat of climate change, which is caused by the release of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. The release of green house gases causes the earth’s temperature to become heated and in turn warms the oceans and melts the polar ice caps resulting in increased sea levels. These would contribute to the depletion of fresh water through evaporation. On the flip side however, due to technological advances in science it can be argued that is not highly impossible for humans to exist in a world without water. Take for instance, research and development being done on new waterless or less-water technologies. In crowded countries with water shortages, where there is the need for greater agricultural output, these technologies have the potential to become inexpensive mass-produced commodities.
The following are some everyday applications which may be seen in a waterless world.
• Composting toilets: waterless toilets odour-free “fashion items”, with easily removable capsules which could be collected with the household garbage or used on the garden.
• The microwave oven: the future may see the greater use of partially processed food, which requires less preparation and cooking.
• Increase of nanotechnology: clothes may be made of materials (or treated with chemicals) so that they can be cleaned by simply shaking, or by being “washed” in some waterless appliance.
• Showers, baths and hand washing – could be replaced by some waterless electro-mechanical person-cleaning device. Alternatively, a finely controlled air-water spray “cleaner” requiring minimal water use may be perfected. Examples of current vulnerabilities of freshwater resources and their management; in the background, water stress map based on WaterGAP (Alcamo et al., 2003a). See text for relation to climate change.
Will the number of people without access to clean water increase or decrease in the future?
The global consumption of water is doubling every twenty years and it is estimated that in 2025, 2.3 billion people will be living in areas where it will be difficult or even impossible to meet basic water needs.
How is that possible?
Presently there are already more than 1.5 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water. As the global population increases so does the demand for fresh water for the uses of Commercial, Industrial and Livestock applications, to name a few. Also with climate change and global warming on the rise it seems unlikely that the number of people without access to clean water will decrease in the future.
However, increasing the number of people with access to clean water is a goal of the United Nations and it is evident that many countries are trying to meet this goal. For example, non-profit organisation, Global Giving, is trying to make water available to women & children of Tanzania who have to walk 20 miles for less than 5 gallons, by constructing a water tower that will make H2O available to 23,000 by the end of 2012.
Additionally, the Millennium Project states that in order for clean water to reach more people in the future: Breakthroughs in desalination, such as pressurization of seawater to produce vapour jets, filtration via carbon nanotubes, and reverse osmosis, are needed along with less costly pollution treatment and better water catchments. Future demand for fresh water could be reduced by saltwater agriculture on coastlines, producing pure meat without growing animals, increasing vegetarianism, fixing leaking pipes, and the reuse of treated water.
Organizations like Concern Worldwide are working throughout Haiti to help to bring clean and safe drinking water to local residents. Through the construction of rainwater cisterns and the protection of natural springs and fountains, Concern provided 4,700 people with access to clean drinking water in just one year. Children and parents are also taught vital information about improving hygiene practices and sterilizing water.
Individuals should never underestimate their own influence and the role they can play in changing things for the better. I think they should speak up in their communities and say:
“Stop polluting our rivers. Stop wasting water. I cannot take this anymore.” And begin to talk to their neighbours and friends, and begin to organize and let the policy makers and the local, district, or national governments know that they are concerned. — Kofi Annan, FormerSecretary-General
The UN estimates that by 2025, 75% of the world population won’t have reliable, clean water.Water-use information can be used to evaluate the impacts of population growth and the effectiveness of alternative water management policies, regulations, and conservation activities. I believe, with proper practices along with checks and balances it is possible for the number of people without access to clean water decrease in the future.
“At this age and time of abundance, water should never be a luxury. It should be free for all”- Asubuhi Erasto
What do you think? Will the number of people without access to clean water increase or decrease in the future?