The Northwest Community College Initiative’s program goals include creating opportunities for participants to learn about climate change. Here Haris Chaudhry writes about what he has learned about the global water shortage and water conservation during his time in the United States and offers advice on what indiviudals can do to conserve water. Haris is a NWCCI student from Pakistan who is studying at Whatcom Community College.
This is Haris’s third post on the NWCCI blog (and we hope there will be more in the future). Check out his post from earlier this year, Saving Planet Earth, to read what Haris wrote about recycling and implementing positive change after he returns to Pakistan.
This quarter’s flexible schedule has enabled me to join WCC Sustainability Club that helps the campus community in making sustainable choices. The club recently organized and celebrated Earth Week on campus, a documentary Last Call at the Oasis about water crisis in the World and United States in particular. Scientists, biologists, farmers and people from all walks of life briefed how crucial the water crisis is and what should be expected in the near future.
“Americans have the biggest water foot print in the world” said Robert Glennon, author of Unquenchable. He mentioned that Las Vegas is growing massively, consuming 3% of the region’s water. But they are not concerned about water shortage because right next door is Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, the largest water reservoir in the country. Researcher Tim Barnet clarified the fact with an example that if more water is taken out a bath tub then put into the bath tub, the tub will eventually go empty. In Lake Mead the water level is dropping by 10 feet every year. The elevation is 1086 feet now and in 4 years, will drop to 1050 feet. This is an alarming situation because the Hoover Dam provides the electricity needs of California, Nevada and Arizona, and will no longer be able to produce electricity at that point. The effects of rapid depletion of water has already started coming up. The Central Valley in California produces 25% of the food consumed in the U.S. but the current drought in the California has put the irrigated land at stake. Pumping of ground water is not an option anymore as the underground layer of water – aquafers – is also going down all around the United States.
This was really disturbing for me because my country, Pakistan, also suffers from water shortage. We no longer have access to a 24 hour water supply, as water is supplied a few hours each day and we have to store and pump it to the rooftop tanks to be used throughout the day. It is even worse in some rural areas where women walk and bring water in buckets from ponds far away from residential areas. The multinational companies should realize that water is a human right and prevent its privatization now. Bottled water is consumed by handful of people who can afford it but on the other hand most people around the world don’t even have access to clean water, and that is unfair.
Through this documentary I came to know that less than 1% of Earth’s water is fresh (i.e. drinkable) but we are contaminating that limited amount of water with industrial waste. Water is also causing disputes all over the world because an infinitely increasing population cannot be satisfied with the finite amount of water available on this planet. Whenever we open the tap, we get water so we don’t even realize that water is a scare resource. It is not just about a region or a country, it is a global threat, and now is the time to take action. Start by using efficient appliances and fixing leakage which can count a lot. Here are some other water conservation tips:
- Cut showers short.
- Install timed-water sprinklers in garden.
- Plough native plants that use little water.
- Use a rain barrel to collect water for use in the landscape.
- Reducing water flow during brushing teeth, washing dishes etc.
- Organize hydro-zones during landscaping i.e. determine plants that have similar water requirements to prevent over watering.
If every one of us evaluates our water usage, we’ll come to know that there is a potential to do much more. Water is the basis of life and the single most necessary element for any of us; we must contribute to save this valuable resource before it is too late.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The opinions expressed in this blog by writers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Northwest Community College Initiative program, Edmonds Community College, Whatcom Community College, Pierce College, the United States Department of State or any employee thereof. NWCCI and Edmonds Community College are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied by student bloggers.