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Climate for Action: How Much Appreciation Do You Have For Your Water?

2009 August 25

Did you know that water covers more than 70% of the Earth’s surface? With that much water, it may be hard to imagine that water could ever be in short supply. However, out of that total amount of water, only 2.5% is fresh water. And, more than half of that is locked up in the polar ice-caps, leaving just a tiny percentage of the Earth’s water available for our use. Ironically, this relatively small amount of fresh water is all there is to serve more than the 6.7 billion people that live on this Earth,

We need water to satisfy our thirst, bathe ourselves, wash our dishes, water our crops, and take care of our pets. For some of us, it is a fortune to be able to use water for these purposes with no fear of ever running short. However, for some 600 million people, satisfying their own thirst is an impossible task. Less than 50% of people in Africa have access to safe drinking water. 20% of people living in the giant continent of Asia lack access to safe water. In several villages in Vietnam where I come from, people have to use water in the same pond for bathing, cooking, and drinking. The government has not passed legislation like the US’s Clean Water Act to protect its citizens. There is no fund or expertise to upgrade the water treatment system. Therefore, many people are or will become susceptible to disease vectors, pathogens, or contaminants. Around the world, the number of deaths associated with unclean water has mounted to 2.2 million.

If you are the person with great heart and want to share your beautiful world with others, then it is time for you to start taking action. There are faucets in your home that need to be checked and fixed as soon as possible because one leaking faucet can waste up to 2,750 gallons of water per year. Likewise, if you are brushing your teeth, then turning off that running faucet in front of you is necessary because one stuck faucet can waste more than 2,500 gallons of water every day. Remember, there is no need to join an organization to start changing the world or to save someone’s life because you can do all these things yourself!

About the author: Thanh Pham is an undergraduate student at George Mason University. She is interning with EPA this summer.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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11 Responses leave one →
  1. Johnny R. permalink
    August 25, 2009

    You call for action, but too little, too late. Certainly it helps to conserve water at home, but there is not enough fresh water to supply a relentlessly growing human population, 6.7 billion people and counting. Only by peacefully reducing the number of people to match the available supply of natural resources in each area, including fresh water, can there be any chance to reverse the impending ecocidal catastrophe, which nobody will escape.

  2. jackensondrnd permalink
    August 25, 2009

    The water (H2O) or primary human drink for health and body reproduction systematic, playing a primordial role in my life.
    The reverse osmosis or osmosis reverse making me feel that i am safer.
    This composition molecular from human creation is very unique for me.

  3. donnamsar permalink
    August 25, 2009

    Johnny R.,
    “Only by peacefully reducing the number of people…” What are you advocating here? Are you talking about killing off elderly? youngsters? Who is ever expendable in this kind of thinking? The women over 45? The men over 65? How do we sustain civilization if we start doing this?

    This has been the subject of conjecture for generations. We have no idea what would happen to humanity if this sort of philosophy is adopted!

    There must be solutions that we have not thought of yet.

  4. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    August 25, 2009

    Water is the universal drink that we cannot live without. The central problem is how to get reliable drinking water that is clean to everyone who needs it. The United Nations has the Water Mandate that has as one of its aims doing that. It is working to get governments and corporations to work together to conserve water, and provide systems and processes for providing clean water and treatment of waste water. The Pacific Insititute represents the UN Water Mandate in the United States. I am on the board of directors of my condo association and we are taking steps to conserve water here. One thing is we are putting down a thick multch around our trees and flowerbeds so the plants won’t get dry as fast. We are using new SMART controllers to operate our irrigation system. We are working with the local water district that serves us and another water district that has a recycled water supply line running past our complex to create a union supply line for recycled water that we can connect our irrigation system to. And the owners have installed water saving plumbing fittings in their units. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  5. Markus permalink
    August 25, 2009

    Thanh, thanks for that reminder – I would just get that leaking faucet fixed.

    Also, as you say, we have 70% water but only 2.5% is fresh water. With all the technological advances and the hi-tech research etc., why are we still not able to find ways to even convert just 1% of that remaning 67.5% water? Just having an extra 1% can do absolute wonders to the billions of inhabitants of this world.

  6. Johnny R. permalink
    August 26, 2009

    That’s the same old nonsense reply that ignores the the word “peaceful” that I always include in my comments. Peaceful family planning would be available to everyone if religious dogma and male supremacy would politely step aside and let the women decide how many children they can support. Only a few women want a many children, more want none at all, but the vast majority want only 1, 2 or 3. The result would be that with a smaller human population there would be plenty of resources for everyone, including fresh water.

  7. Johnny R. permalink
    August 26, 2009

    Those are wonderful things you are doing, but even if everyone on Earth could do the same, the growing population would overwhelm the limited supply of fresh water — or we could try to install thousands of desalination plants along coastlines around the World and literally drink the ocean dry ( ! ) So, how many people can the Earth support? Some “pronatalists” imagine 50 billion ( ! )

  8. Johnny R. permalink
    August 26, 2009

    The “billions of inhabitants of this World” is not a stable number. The question is how many people can the Earth support before the biosphere collapses under humanity’s tons of waste and trash that is already floating in ocean garbage patches and washing up on beaches around the World. I guess we had better call it the “growth instinct” because so many people get annoyed when told the Earth has limited resources, especially fresh water, which is already in short supply, like in California where farmland is returning to desert.

  9. BewaterWiseRep permalink
    August 28, 2009

    Water shortage is a growing concern worldwide, with places like Southern California facing a rising shortage of fresh water. Water conservation is the need of the hour. Things like turning off the faucet when brushing your teeth, taking shorter showers, installing a smart sprinkler controller, fixing leaky faucets, and washing only full loads of laundry etc. will help in minimizing water usage. Go to for more water saving tips!

  10. Johnny R. permalink
    August 28, 2009

    “Water shortage is a growing concern worldwide” but not the growing human population that is causing it? Why?

  11. Andy Jacob permalink
    September 11, 2009

    Scary stuff going on with potable water. I was just reading about the Ogallala Aquifer and how water levels are way down. Frightening article at:
    Although I think the optimal toilet is waterless, I think we are a few years away. Until then, dual flush toilets are a great way to go for new construction. These toilets allow the user to select from two flush volumes depending on what is put into the toilet. There are also dual-flush toilet retrofit kits. They transform existing two-piece, 1.6-gallon toilets into dual flush toilets. Not only do the kits save water, but they avoid the carbon footprint associated with the construction of the new toilet, distribution of a new toilet, as well as the disposal of the existing toilet.

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