"Water not only sustains life. It quenches a lifestyle thirst. And when
its use is abused, it can vanish. And with it, the life around it
evaporates. " Quoted from Water Use It Wisely
By the year 2050, some 4 billion people (that's over half
of the entire world's population) will be facing severe water
shortages. North American's are not immune. In particular, Americans living in Southwestern
states like Arizona and Colorado could be facing severe freshwater shortages
even sooner -- by 2025.
In North America and in Europe, the average individual uses between 200
liters (44 gallons ) and 600 liters (132 gallons) of water per day, compared to the 20 liters (4.5 gallons) deemed to be
the minimum daily requirement for drinking, washing, cooking and
Such unsustainable consumption levels have led to localized
areas of water scarcity and significantly altered freshwater ecosystems.
The massive Colorado River in the United States, which feeds the
otherwise desert-like cities of Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas as
well as millions of agricultural fields, now runs dry before
the ocean. To make matters worse, the Rocky Mountain West is the fastest-growing region in the country with six of the 10 fastest growing states and many of the fastest growing
U.S. cities located within the basin (according to 2007 U.S. Census
Bureau data). The Colorado River itself is already the primary water
supply for 27 million people in seven U.S. states, plus two states in
Mexico and dozens of Native American tribes. As a consequence, the Colorado River Delta, which once
supported plentiful plant and animal life, is now significantly
Right behind the US, Canada rates as the
second biggest water consumer with its per capita water consumption 65% above the world average.
On average, each
Canadian uses 1600 cubic meters of water per year. This is 6400 tons of
water for a family of four. This is more than twice as much water as the
average person from France, three times as much as the average German,
almost four times as much as the average Swede and more than eight times
as much as the average Dane.
At this rate, water supplies (mainly ground-level sources) will not
be able to support North America's growing needs and expanding population.
What about our Great lakes? These important sources of water support over 33 million people living around them. But only 1% of the
total volume of the Great Lakes is replenished
annually by rain and snow melt. 60% of the renewable water resources flow North toward the Arctic.
As a result, North Americans are beginning to adopt an environmental approach to water. This in not only a good thing, it is necessary
if we want our children to have access to water when they grow up. You may have
noticed recently that more and more municipalities have started taxing
water consumption; this is a direct consequence.
And it’s only just
begun. Important behavioral changes will be asked of us where we assign a greater value to water, our most precious natural resource.