Water is a vital resource for life on earth. It is essential for our survival and the survival of all living things.
However, despite its importance, water is still something that we seemingly take for granted.
The many parts of the world already experiencing water shortages it's more important than ever that we take water conservation seriously.
In this guide, we explain why water conservation is more important than and how you can help to save water at home.
Why is Water Conservation More Important Than Ever?
Though the rate of worldwide population increase is slowing, it still growing. We are expected to see over 10 billion people living on Earth by 2080.
That means less water for everyone. Especially in poorer nations that typically have faster growing populations.
A growing population is not the only contributing factor to water shortages but it's certainly a significant one. Here's where the problems lie:
Water Scarcity is a Getting Worse
Water scarcity is a growing concern around the world. According to UNICEF, around 2/3 of the world's population (about 4 billion people) live in places that experience water scarcity that's described as "severe" for at least one month of the year. UNICEF also believes that around "700 million people could be displaced by intense water scarcity by 2030".
Water scarcity can have significant economic, social, and environmental impacts, including:
- Reduced crop yields and food production
- Limited access to safe drinking water
- Increased conflicts over water resources
These impacts can have serious consequences for the health and well-being of individuals and communities. Therefore, it is essential to conserve water and reduce waste to ensure that there is enough water for everyone.
You can read more about water shortages and their causes and solutions in our guide.
Climate Change is Affecting Water Resources
Changes in temperature and precipitation patterns are altering the availability of water in many regions, making it even more critical to conserve water. Here's how climate change is impacting our water supplies:
- According to a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), many regions are expected to experience more frequent and severe droughts, floods, and other extreme weather events due to altering precipitation patterns.In some areas, droughts are becoming more frequent and prolonged, reducing the availability of water for agriculture, industry, and domestic use. In other regions, extreme rainfall events are causing flooding, which can damage water infrastructure and contaminate water sources.
- Snowmelt is a critical source of water for many regions, particularly in mountainous areas. However, climate change is causing snow to melt earlier in the year, reducing the availability of water during the summer months when demand is highest.
- As global temperatures continue to rise, sea levels are also rising, increasing the risk of saltwater intrusion into freshwater sources in coastal areas. This can lead to the contamination of drinking water supplies and damage to agricultural land.
- Higher temperatures can cause water to evaporate more quickly, leading to a reduction in the volume of water available for use. Additionally, warmer water temperatures can reduce the quality of water, making it less suitable for drinking, swimming, and other uses.
- Climate change is affecting aquatic ecosystems, leading to changes in water quality and availability. As water temperatures rise, fish and other aquatic species are forced to adapt to new conditions or risk extinction. Changes in water quality and availability can also impact the growth and distribution of aquatic plants, which can have far-reaching effects on the ecosystem as a whole.
These events can have significant impacts on our water resources and the communities that depend on them. Therefore, water conservation is not only essential for ensuring that there is enough water for everyone, but it is also critical for building resilience to the impacts of climate change.
Water Pollution is a Growing Concern
Water pollution is also a growing concern around the world. According to this 2022 research paper, over 80% of wastewater generated by human activities is discharged into the environment without treatment. They continue to state that an astounding "80% of diseases and 50% of child deaths worldwide are related to poor water quality."
Plastic pollution for instance, is a growing concern worldwide, with an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic entering the oceans every year. Plastic pollution can harm marine life and contaminate water sources, posing a threat to human health.
In many regions of the world, inadequate sanitation facilities are contributing to water pollution too. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 2.3 billion people worldwide lack access to basic sanitation services, leading to the discharge of untreated sewage into waterways.
Pollution from agriculture and industry are also huge threats to our clean water too.
According to this report, 38% of water bodies within the EU are under significant threat from pollution caused by agriculture. Farms discharge organic waste and chemicals into local bodies of water.
Water Conservation Can Save Money
I think you'll all agree, utility bills are getting more and more expensive. By using water more efficiently and reducing waste, we can reduce our water bills and save on the cost of water treatment and distribution.
Additionally, by using water-efficient appliances and fixtures, we can reduce our energy bills, which can help to save even more money in the long run. The EPA suggests you can save up to $350 a year in water costs by fitting WaterSense fixtures and appliances with ENERGY STAR® ratings.
The treatment and distribution of water also requires a significant amount of energy. By reducing water usage, we can reduce the amount of energy needed to provide water, which can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
How Can We Conserve Water?
There are many ways that we can conserve water. Here are a few examples of things you can do at home.
- 1Fix leaks: A dripping faucet can waste a lot of water over time. By fixing leaks, you can save a significant amount of water.
- 2Use low-flow fixtures: Low-flow showerheads and faucets can help to reduce water usage without sacrificing performance.
- 3Install a rain barrel: A rain barrel can collect rainwater that can be used for watering plants and other outdoor uses.
- 4Use water-efficient appliances: Modern household appliances tend to be both more energy efficient and water efficient. It might be time to upgrade your old such as washing machine or dishwasher.
- 5Reduce outdoor water usage: Watering lawns and gardens can account for a significant portion of household water usage. By reducing outdoor water usage, you can save a lot of water. The EPA estimates that almost 9 billion gallons of water (30% of all household water used) is used outdoors in the US every year.
- 6Take shorter showers: Limiting your shower time to five minutes can save a lot of water. You can also turn off the water while you shampoo or condition your hair.
- 7Don't let the water run while brushing your teeth: Turning off the tap while brushing your teeth can save up to 8 gallons of water a day.
- 8Only run full loads: Running the dishwasher or washing machine only when they are full can help to save water and energy.
- 9Use a broom instead of a hose: Sweeping your driveway and sidewalks instead of using a hose can save water.
- 10Fix your toilet: A leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water a day. Fixing the leak can save a lot of water and money on your water bill. You can go even further by using a waterless toilet.
- 11Water plants early in the morning or late in the evening: Watering plants during the hottest part of the day can cause water to evaporate quickly. Watering early in the morning or late in the evening when it is cooler can help to reduce evaporation.
- 12Use a pool cover: Covering your swimming pool when it is not in use can help to reduce water loss due to evaporation.
Do you have some water saving tips you'd like to share with your fellow readers? Let the world know down below!