World Water Day 2010 – Let’s pledge to conserve

Water: Precious & Scarce as it is
Water: Precious & Scarce as it is

Do you know what date it is? 22nd March. I know its not your birthday (unless you are Prof. Aneesh Gangal), neither is mine. Today is World Water Day, observed world-wide since 1992, popularized by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development at Rio De Janerio that year. And what are we doing? Forget about standing in the world’s longest queue to highlight the global sanitation crisis or using low flow toilets, we’re not even closing taps when we brush. And please note, its not about the money; water is still very cheap at 25 paise (INR 0.25) a gallon. Just that its not enough. Water like other resources is extremely precious & sadly depleting. Let us atleast pledge to conserve & use it judiciously. Read further if you wish to Go Green!

Anyway, we’re talking water. If you are planning to save water, you should first be roughly aware of how much you are using. Similar to the carbon foot print, water consumption by individuals & companies is measured by a water foot print. This includes the total amount of freshwater used directly and indirectly. Direct consumption is on account of drinking, washing, leaving the tap open 🙁 Indirect usage is the water spent on growing vegetables we consume, manufacturing coffee beans, preparing a meat steak, etc. Unfortunately, it takes 20 gallons of water to create a pint of beer. Here is a Facebook app to check out your water foot-print.

So why is water so important?

  • Although a person can live without food for more than a month, a person can only live without water for approximately one week.
  • Only 1% of the earth’s water is suitable for drinking water.

Few Facts:

  • Leaks are a enormous problem.  In developing countries, nearly 40% of the water is lost before it reachs its destination.
  • It takes about 37 gallons of water to grow the coffee beans and process them to make one cup of coffee.
  • More than 1,300 gallons is required to produce a 12oz steak.
  • About 6,800 gallons of water is required to grow a day’s food for a family of four.
  • It takes 52 gals of water to produce one glass of pasteurized milk. The ratio is 1,000:1 so to produce
  • 1 gallon of milk in the fridge takes 1,000 gallons out in the fields
  • It takes more than 10 gallons of water to produce one slice of wheat bread. If you eat the bread with a slice of cheese then you add another 13 gallons.
  • It takes 1,500 gallons to process one barrel of beer.
  • It takes 101 gallons to make one pound of wool or cotton.
  • It takes 1,851 gallons to refine one barrel of crude oil.
  • It takes 62,600 gallons to produce one ton of steel.

So what is it that we can do?

At the least,

  • Close open outlets, fix leaking pipes, valves & taps
  • Do not leave the tap open when brushing, saving, soaping, …
  • Don’t spend hours under the shower (use a bath tub instead)
  • Use toilet water tanks with the half-flush option (discussed earlier http://www.prasadgupte.com/go/green-its-my-new-obsession/)
  • If you’ve stored water during tank maintenance for example, do not throw it away. Use it for washing vessels or your plants instead
  • Shut-off the master valve when going on holidays
  • Trash tissues instead of flushing them
  • Who says lip service doesn’t help, try it here
  • And ofcourse, drink less beer!

Learn more here:
http://www.worldwaterday.org/
http://www.wateruseitwisely.com/100-ways-to-conserve/index.php
http://www.water.siemens.com/en/campaigns/Pages/Water_Footprint.aspx
http://www.water.siemens.com/en/municipal/Wastewater/Pages/WorldWaterDay09.aspx

PS: This post is dedicated to my colleague Bijal Vasa

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