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Turn Off That Faucet! Water Doesn't Grow on Trees, You Know
April 08, 2000

Water is a limited resource. In her dispatch, Abeja hints to the possibility of the world turning into a large desert because of the overuse of water. Now, you might think that this could be a nifty thing: a suntan guaranteed 365 days a year; summer vacation in the middle of winter. At the same time, imagine a world where water is a rare commodity. You could not waste it on making your favorite singers like Ricky Martin or Jennifer Lopez look so good in their videos; there could be no water fights or water balloons; and we would no longer have swimming, belly flops (ouch!) or cannonballs! We can sense your feeling of dread as you imagine a world without sno-cones and popsicles.

Although "planet desert" is a long way off, there are signs leading to this possible future. In the United States, the Ogallala Aquifer is one of the best examples. It is one of the largest aquifers in the world. An aquifer is a huge natural underground water bottle. This "water bottle" is used by people in the United States from the Midwest to Texas to irrigate their land, take baths, and fill up their Nerf Switch Shots. Farmers use six million acre-feet of water to grow us food while the Ogallala Aquifer recharges at an annual rate of 185,00 acre-feet; as a result, we are using water much faster rate than it can regenerate. Globally, there are parts of the world, like Africa, that have endured long droughts where they did not have enough drinking water and had to get it from other countries.

Remember the problems the Team found when they went to the Aswan Dam in Egypt? Well, in India, where the Team will be in a few weeks, there are ongoing dam building projects that are destroying communities, leaving thousands homeless, and forever changing natural environs. The justification for these dams comes from statistical data gathered by the government which projects how much water will be needed in the coming years. The dams store water and the government can regulate usage to those areas that are in need. The problem with this scenario is that people waste water. People use too much water on frivolous activities, which then drain the current supplies. If people could conserve water, they would not need the dams, communities in the dam construction areas would be spared relocation, and eons-old forests and farming land would be preserved for future generations.


frivolous - doing something that isn't necessary or doing it without thinking about the consequences.

In the US we see similar happenings. Think about this: you turn on your faucet while brushing your teeth, and leave it on for the entire time you brush. You use maybe two gallons of water. Your brother or sister does the same thing, as do your parents, your neighbors, their neighbors, and their neighbors' neighbors. That's a lot of water that we didn't really need to use. A similar waste of water is found when you wash your car, clean your sidewalk, flush your toilet, do your dishes, and water your lawn. We are using a lot of water that didn't really need to be used in the first place.

How does this affect us?

The American government, like that of India's, looks to our water usage to make plans for the future. They think about how much water we use right now and how many more people there will be in the near future. We currently use roughly 100 gallons of water per person, per day. The US's population will increase by roughly 125 million people in the next fifty years. Our government, in planning for the future, will realize that in the year 2050 we will need 100 gallons of water per person, per day, for our new population of 400 million. That's 40 billion gallons of water each day that we will need! Where are they going to get all that water? The government will have to finance new water supply projects, which will most likely negatively affect the environment in which they are constructed. They will also be paid for by the taxpayers of the US. That's a bad deal either way you look at it.

How do we ensure that we have enough water for future generations but also ensure that we are being responsible global citizens? Well, unlike Luke Skywalker's aunt and uncle in the original Star Wars, we can't grow water. But, there are steps that can be used to conserve this resource.

Do not hose down your driveway or sidewalk. Use a broom to clean leaves and other debris from these areas. Using a hose to clean a driveway can waste hundreds of gallons of water.

Consider using a commercial car wash that recycles water. If you wash your own car, park on the grass to do so.

If the toilet flush handle frequently sticks in the flush position, letting water run constantly, replace or adjust it.

Don't let water run while brushing your teeth.

Take shorter showers.

Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Dispose of tissues, insects and other such waste in the trash rather than the toilet.

Never put water down the drain when there may be another use for it such as watering a plant or garden, or cleaning.

Consider xeriscaping your lawn. There are many plants that are beautiful and less water needy than grass.

If we conserve water now, we won't have to compromise other resources in the future. Our natural environs ARE important. Our tax dollars ARE important. Our water IS important. Make a difference. Learn to use water wisely.

Related Links:

Check out this great resource for water conservation! has some great tips

Abeja - Out of Town, Across the Sand, Into the City: Nothin' but Desert! Iran Gets Creative with Wind and Water
Brian - My Visit to the Vank (pronounced Bonk)
Jasmine - The Golden Age: Safavid Rule
Monica - Home is where the Heart is.... Zartosht's House
Kavitha - Balancing East and West: Pars Grows Up

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