A manufacturing expert explains why his perspective on the value of fresh water has changed.
Lately, I find myself thinking about my water use all the time. Now I find myself thinking about the water problem every time I pour a glass water at 2 a.m., or while I’m taking a longer than normal hot shower or as I watch my sprinklers in action during a down-pour. I have begun to address each of my short comings regarding water usage in my own home and life.
We all, including my teenage daughter, now take shorter and timed showers. We have replaced our clothes and dishwasher with water-saving and energy efficient new models and until I can convince my wife that replacing our lawn with indigenous plants that use and need less water, I have replaced my sprinkler timer that now turns it’s self off when it rains. We have also joined several groups to help educate others about water usage and the crisis at hand as well as to raise money to help build wells and filtration systems where they are truly needed.
What happened? How did I become a water evangelist? It started with a simple moment at home.
The "Mouths of Babes"
"Dad!...can I have a drink of water?” came a small, half awake voice from my son’s room…”Sure” I said, as I got up and out of bed and trudged to the kitchen. I leaned over the sink, waiting for the water to reach the right temperature. Then it struck me. This is a wondrous thing, to go to the tap and get a cool and clean glass of water in the middle of the night. Frankly, it had never even occurred to me that water would not come out of the faucet, or that I would have to be concerned with the quality of my water.
It has always been there. As a kid, I remember, there was no greater treat than drinking from the garden hose on a hot summer day. (Nowadays we'd check to see if the hose was BPA free!).
Back to my son and the glass of water. Like the saying goes "out of the mouths of babes," he drops the question: ”Doesn’t everyone have clean water?” I didn't respond right away, just put him back to bed, and started researching.
As someone who has always been concerned about protecting the environment, I had a vague understanding about global water issues, but after a few clicks, an email and a couple of texts, I had a new awakening to a crisis of global implication.
The Scary Facts
It is hard to believe that in this day of age that, according to UN figures, over 2.6 billion people live without safe drinking water. In the hospitals of Sub-Saharan Africa, more than half of the beds are occupied by patients suffering from sanitation and water related diseases. UN studies have shown that many diseases could be prevented simply by improving local water supplies. Children are the highest at risk, with more than 4,000 dying daily from preventable water related diseases, killing more than HIV/AIDS, malaria and measles combined.
As we all know, we live on the big, blue ball, Earth the water planet. The problem is that 97 percent of the Earth’s water is salt water, leaving a meager 3 percent of freshwater to sustain life for humans, other living creatures as well as plants and agriculture. It is not unthinkable that in the not-so-far future, competition for water in an overpopulated world could lead to major border disputes and outright war over water resources.
Now It's Personal
I want my children to appreciate the bounty before them that they now, like most Americans, take for granted. We are truly blessed to live in the greatest country on the planet, with our wealth of natural resources, technology and freedoms, but in most cases we are here only by an accident of birth. I didn’t choose to be an American, I was just lucky enough to be born an American, and I shudder to think that if the dice had rolled in another direction, I could have been the one living in the Sudan—not to be awakened at 2 am by my son’s request for a glass of water—but to the screams of a sick child, dying from the water she drank, because her thirst outweighed her thoughts of caution.
I encourage you to find out more about the Global Water Crisis and what you can do to help. Please visit the following links for information, participation and donations.
About the Author: Designer, writer and industry mentor, Kevin Henry has been actively involved the international kitchen community for over 30 years. He is currently the director of business services for Dacor appliances.