As a global planet, there is only about 2% fresh water to all of the water in the world, the rest is salinized and therefore useless to us as humans in most ways. So I ask myself as part of this human race, why do I use thousands of gallons of fresh water every day so unsustainably when it is so precious? I was raised on the belief that our planet is a beautiful being that is to be respected and I have an ever-present feeling inside of me that there is a spiritual connection guiding my behaviors towards the planet. I think about the resources I am consuming when I purchase groceries from the grocery store, was the produce grown locally or shipped here using fossil fuels? Or when I buy a new shirt from a department store, was the cotton picked by unskilled laborers in an underdeveloped country? But water has always had this mysterious quality to it that kept me from really thinking about where it comes from. I have always had access to fresh water, so it is hard for me to picture myself walking four miles every day just to get a bucket or two of fresh water to subsist on for the whole day like many women in Africa have to just to survive, and often this water is not even completely clean. I am classifying myself as currently being sheltered when it comes to analyzing water consumption, because I have not developed a global perspective on it yet. I think in immediate terms of how my water use is affecting maybe my immediate watershed, but what about globally?
I have never been one to waste water, I know it is wrong to leave the faucet running when I am brushing my teeth or to take hour long showers. But then again, as I mentioned earlier, I have always had access to fresh water, all I have to do is turn on the faucet and it comes rushing out without fail. This immediate access makes it hard for me to really know where my fresh water is coming from, so I use it without thinking to complete daily activities that require fresh water like drinking, washing and cooking. I might need a cup full to brush my teeth or wash some broccoli to cook, so I walk to the sink and turn it on and out comes my cup of water. But these are just two small tasks, and there are many more I go through everyday, like showering, so that one cup of water needed for that small task is multiplied by many more until I am using way more than I realize and should be. I also like to swim, and the amount of water necessary to fill a pool is immense, Ithaca College alone has two pools and uses millions of gallons each year to keep them running and clean. Now I know that personally, I do not have much of an impact on the water in the pools because it will be there regardless if I swim in it or not, but the point I want to make is that pools use huge amounts of water and mine and others use of them requires their upkeep and huge consumption of fresh water. Luckily there are chemicals in it like chlorine that keep it clean for longer so we are not constantly replacing the water in them. We clean and circulate the water, but the cost to do this is energy taxing and expensive, and now with the construction of the new fitness center, there will be an Olympic sized swimming pool on our campus which will skyrocket the amount of water needed to fill it. As a swimmer, I am excited for access to such a nice new pool, but as a person concerned about sustainably using water, I worry about how this new pool will affect our watershed with its large consumption. There was also some controversy over wetlands that had to be destroyed to build the new center, but new ones have been created in their place and are claimed of be of better quality.
From the moment I entered the Sustainable Water Management Class I was struck with the notion that I personally am using way too much water everyday to be considered a sustainably conscious water user. I decided to take on the challenge of really thinking about how much I use every time I turn on the faucet to pour myself a cup of water or brush my teeth. I time myself in the shower and make sure I do not exceed ten minutes at the most anymore, or when I wash my laundry I make sure my loads are full. I use to wash a couple of loads of laundry a week, now I limit myself down to one because I do not need to be washing a few small loads a week of the clothes I usually wear when I have plenty of others I could be wearing that are just as suiting. I know my watershed now; the one I live in here in Ithaca and my one back home. I know that both face serious issues when it comes to pollution and sedimentation from erosion, but here in Ithaca we face the issue of possible hydrofracking which could pollute our main water source and also use millions of gallons of it without concern for all of the people who rely on it for everyday life.
But down in Virginia, in my hometown watershed, most people have never even heard of hydrofracking or what it is, much less what it could do to the watershed because there is no gas to be drilled for. But these small behaviors I have decided to take on like changing my daily behaviors are not enough to really have the kind of impact I want to have when it comes to conserving water. I want to start seeing the water I consume in its global context, like every time I pour myself that glass of water I need to brush my teeth, I know that half way across the world there is a woman carrying a heavy bucket of water a couple of miles at least back to her home for her family to survive on for the day. Is it fair that I have been born into a country where fresh water is always available because here it is considered a basic human right, but in other places people cannot access fresh water because the meager supplies have been privatized? No, this is unacceptable in my mind and I am dedicated from this moment on to providing information too all of those that think they have it rough here in a country dedicated to fulfilling our basic rights. I want them to imagine having no access to fresh water, they couldn’t take a shower everyday or wash their expensive clothes, they might be constantly dehydrated which leads to them not being able to work everyday due to poor health. Poverty is a huge problem in less developed countries and the limited supplies of fresh water due to lack of infrastructure just multiply the economic troubles. Our country is doing well right now, but with the current consumption and pollution of water at such a rapid rate we could be facing the same issues in 50 years, and privatization of water always looms on the horizon. I feel a moral obligation to educate and help people understand how valuable a commodity fresh water is and how it needs to remain a basic right to all humans who rely on it to survive, after all, a human can only survive three days at the most without fresh water before death ensues.