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Floridians need water education
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By Becca Greenwood | June 07, 2012
Let’s talk about water; every drop counts.
It’s hard to imagine life without it.
We drink it, we bathe in it and we swim in it.
Here in Florida, water appears plentiful.
Is it really, though?
The reality is that clean drinking water is far from plentiful. And an even more unfortunate fact – if you ask the average Floridian, they would have no idea.
Sure, Florida is surrounded by a gulf and an ocean and filled with thousands of rivers, lakes, springs and wetlands. And when it rains, it pours – but we can’t drink it.
For such a big issue, it’s commonly overlooked by the general public. Water conservation is a rising issue in politics that has proliferated marketing, advertising, public relations and other social campaign initiatives nationwide. This hot topic is sometimes called hydropolitics, meaning politics affected by the availability of water and water resources. Water has even been referred to as the “next hot commodity,” much like oil is today. So why doesn’t the general public know or care?
We can’t create more water. While the global water supply is rapidly diminishing, the population continues to grow. The human race relies on a finite supply of fresh water to live. We know what this means from some simple high school economics: supply and demand. With this exploding population growth, especially in underdeveloped countries, these limited supplies are quickly consumed.
Don’t get too comfortable, Florida. Developed countries aren’t immune to fresh water problems either. One study showed a 600 percent increase in water use compared to only a 200 percent increase in population size in the United States since 1990. This is a pretty big deal. We are talking about a prerequisite to the sustainability of all forms of life. Clearly, some big changes need to happen here.
Sure we have the watering restrictions, but sadly, many don’t follow them at all. Does everyone in your neighborhood skip watering the lawn every time it rains?
Seminole County’s drinking water is pumped from groundwater. We pull 99 percent of our water from the Floridan Aquifer. As the population grows, we are impacting the aquifer more and more. This impact creates a ripple effect that reaches our lakes, springs and wetlands, which defines our state’s beauty and throws a wrench in countless ecosystems. Not to mention, getting closer to the possibility of decreased water quality, saltwater intrusion and an increased frequency of sinkholes for our future.
We need water education. We need to put the issue into perspective. We need to tell Florida that although 75 percent of Earth is covered in water, less than 3 percent of that is fresh and 70 percent of the fresh water is ice. Then factor in pollution making some water unusable, and don’t forget the irrigation and industry uses. What’s left for human consumption? Less than 0.08 percent. Yet, the general public seems to think that water is a commodity that we will always have at our fingertips.
Anyone can make a difference whether it’s a shorter shower or less time watering your lawn. The most important part is spreading the word – and acting on it. Don’t quit these changes like we quit diets. Start today.
Whether you see the glass as half full or half empty, just remember that when you drink it, water is a privilege, not a right.
Benjamin Franklin said, “When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.” Let’s prove him wrong, Florida.
this article courtesy of Seminole Chronicle
Water shortages will leave world in dire straits
Waste and inadequate management of water are the main culprits behind growing problems, particularly in poverty-ridden regions, says the study, the most comprehensive of its kind. The United Nations Environment Programme, working with more than 200 water resource experts worldwide, produced the report.
“Tens of millions of people don’t have access to safe water. It is indeed a crisis,” says Halifa Drammeh, who coordinates UNEP’s water policies. The wide-ranging report, part of the UN’s designation of 2003 as the International Year of Freshwater, also documents problems such as steep drops in the size of Asia’s Aral Sea, Africa’s Lake Chad and Iraq’s Marshlands; the deterioration of coral reefs; and the rise of coastal waters because of climate changes. Some developing nations could face water shortages, crop failures and conflict over shrinking lakes and rivers if nothing is done to prevent wasteful irrigation and slow evaporation from reservoirs, and drinking-water systems are not repaired.
Based on data from NASA, the World Health Organization and other agencies, the report finds:
- Severe water shortages affecting at least 400 million people today will affect 4 billion people by 2050. Southwestern states such as Arizona will face other severe freshwater shortages by 2025.
- Adequate sanitation facilities are lacking for 2.4 billion people, about 40% of humankind.
- Half of all coastal regions, where 1 billion people live, have degraded through overdevelopment or pollution.
“The basic problem is poverty, not water,” says water resources economist Chuck Howe of the University of Colorado in Boulder. About 90% of the severe problems are in developing nations, he says, where solutions to wasting water lie in better irrigation and water supply practices.
In developed nations such as Japan, the USA and in Europe, most water shortfalls arise from politically popular but inefficient subsidies and protections of agriculture, which accounts for 85% of freshwater consumption worldwide.
Along with drinking-water concerns, the report looks at global problems of oceans and seas:
- Coral reefs, mangrove forests and sea grass beds, important grounds for young fish and for environmental needs, face threats from overfishing, development and pollution.
- Oxygen-depleted seas, caused by industrial and agricultural runoff, could lead to fishery collapses and “dead zones” in such places as the Gulf of Mexico.
- Wild-fish catches are leveling off worldwide. With 75% of fish stocks fully exploited, fleets have turned to fish lower on ocean food chains. Ecologists worry that entire fisheries will collapse as these “junk fish” are used up. Increased demand for fish is being made up through aquaculture, which brings other environmental concerns.
Drammeh hopes the report helps mobilize support for international organizations brokering water and fishery agreements that encourage better water management among nations. Developing regions don’t need more dam-building projects, he says, but need more people trained to manage water systems.
this article courtesy of Dan Vergano, USA TODAY
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