Water Is Life, How Much Is Too Much? Fresh Water Conservation

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Water Is Life, How Much Is Too Much?

What consequences are our demands for freshwater having on the planet?

We are reliant on using large quantities of water every day.
Whilst there is the same amount of freshwater on earth that there always has been, the global population increase of 1.1% per annum is increasing demand. In 1800 the population was 1 billion and this has grown to 7.7 billion in 2019.
Population increase coupled with climate change is leaving the world's freshwater resources in dire crisis.
Every year competition for a clean, copious supply of water for agriculture, industry, drinking, cooking, bathing, and sustaining life is increasing.

Did you know?
90% of global power generation is water-intensive. UNESCO, 2019

To reiterate that means 90% of all electricity globally is used to produce freshwater. Resources are intwined, using less water means you are using less electricity ie: saving power. 
Why is water power-intensive? 
Whilst the filtration process requires power, the intensive use of power is due to the transportation of freshwater from dam reservoirs to dwellings and buildings. Coupled with the transportation and disposal of wastewater.

How much of water supply is fueled by green energy?

In Australia, 23.5% of energy is green sourced. Green energy in Australia at the moment is predominantly wind farms, solar farms and hydroelectric. Globally statistics vary, Australia is about the mean on green energy supply.
While industry such as agriculture is the largest demand, household usage makes up on average 12% of global water use.
The majority of water use and consumption by humans is for agriculture, industry and household.
How you can help.

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Residential Water Use

Through conscious residential water use combined with conscious consumer purchasing and consumption, you will quickly reduce your water use. This helps in two ways, firstly by conserving a precious resource and secondly saving your money.

What food uses the most water?

Meat (beef) equates for the largest uses of water.
If you eat meat, next time you make a purchase be mindful.
  • Consider a sustainable diet reducing meat as see below in the Sustainable Pyramid
  • Choose meat products that have been produced using more sustainable sources of energy
  • Find an alternative product, swap a meat meal for a vegetarian or vegan alternative
These mindful acts will ensure your overall total water use per person per day is significantly reduced.


Holy Cow! Show me the data

Not showering for 6 months would save less water than 0.5 kg of meat (beef).
6 months = 2,500 gallons of water or 9464 litres
1 pound of meat (0.5kg) =  2,400 gallons of water

A 2015 study concluded that a diet that is vegetarian 5 days a week and includes meat 2 days a week would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water and land use by about 45%. 
Double Pyramid Mode

A Sustainable Diet Pyramid

A Sustainable Diet

Freshwater - The Source

What is the big deal, if 70% of the planet is water how are we in a shortage?

"While nearly 70% of the world is covered by water, only 2.5% of it is fresh. The rest is saline and ocean-based. Even then, just 1% of our freshwater is easily accessible, with much of it trapped in glaciers and snowfields. In essence, only 0.007% of the planet's water is available to fuel and feed its 7.7 billion people.National Geographic
Due to geography, climate, engineering, regulation, and competition for resources, some regions seem relatively flush with freshwater, while others face drought and debilitating pollution.
The keyword here is 'seem', our ever-increasing consumption demands of a billion gallons / litres every day all over the planet. This increased consumption coupled with climate change and over-population is a big problem.
An American statistic calculated freshwater usage at 3.9 trillion gallons of water per month, which is about 35000 gallons per day! Equal to 132490 litres per day (learn more).
 Dams - About - Filtration, transportation, energy use and fresh water source

About Dams

How does a water filtration plant work?

Water from dams in Australia, while is considered freshwater, sill must flow through a filtration process. Filters are made of layers of sand and gravel. Sometimes crushed anthracite is used. Impurities are collected and to improve water quality chemicals added. 
The next step is the disinfectant, the most common way is by using chemicals such as chlorine. UV light is another alternative, this does not kill bacteria but stops them being able to multiple.
In much of the developing world, clean water is either hard to come by or a commodity that requires laborious work or significant currency to obtain.

How much power is needed to process clean water?

Processing freshwater into drinking water and the transportation of the water uses a significant amount of energy. More than likely turning on a tap few people give this much thought.
The necessary energy used is why water conservation is imperative. Water consumption is part of a large eco-logical puzzle.

90% of global power generation
is water-intensive. 
UNESCO, 2019

How much freshwater becomes wastewater?

Wastewater is the water you use and discard in abundance, quite a thought. 
Used water from toilets, showers, baths, kitchen sinks, laundries and industrial processes is all classified wastewater. Runoff or stormwater from rainfall is also wastewater.
The transportation of freshwater and collect of wastewater are the two most significant uses of energy. 
Relative to home use an average house uses 2,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity each month (learn more). For example, it takes approximately 475-1,400 kWh of energy to treat 300,000 gallons (1135623.54 litres) of wastewater.
"Pumping groundwater to the surface and overland through high elevations are energy-intensive processes. Pumping 17,000 ft3 (480 m3) of water a height of 330 ft (100 m) requires approximately 200 kilowatt-hours of electricity (learn more). In many major municipal areas, water is pumped hundreds of miles from its source before it is used."
How to manage wastewater effectively:
  • Avoid generating unnecessary wastewater, minimise the amount of water used
  • Minimise the strength of contaminants, use biodegradable and phosphate-free detergents or soap
  • Never put harmful substances down sinks, toilets or stormwater drains
  • Compost your kitchen scraps 

Water Is Life, How Much Is Too Much?

Living with Water

Wherever you live, people need a clean water supply to survive. Human bodies are made up of 60% water, this alone demonstrates the necessity of freshwater sources.
Freshwater is beyond clean drinking water.
Lots of water is required to keep our Earth's eco-system going, that is all plants, animals, fish, as well as us, all need water to survive.
Manufacturing of clothing, building materials, paper... the list goes on.
Freshwater efficiency is vital to a healthy environment.
There are two factors of water use that we need to be aware of as this precious resource is being exploited every day.
  • Over-population
  • Greenhouse gases are changing our climate, we will notice longer dry periods and more serve rainfall.

Water Is Life, How Much Is Too Much?

What can you do to save water?

At the moment most households and industry are using fresh drinking water for purposes that are not necessary.
We are literally flushing precious freshwater down the toilet.

'Consider' (be mindful) of your Domestic Water Use

The next time you open a can of soft drink, bottle of water consider where the water inside it came from.
The H20 in an Indian can of Coca-Cola includes treated rainwater, while the contents in the Maldives may once have been seawater. The water needs to come from such different sources for a reason – it’s because there is a global freshwater crisis.

Limit Showers

The average person used between 130-170 litres of water per day.

Half Flush Toilets

The largest consumption of water in the household is used by flushing your toilet.
When possible always half flush.
You will be saving your self money as well as helping the environment.

Sustainable Diet

The shocking truth that 1 hamburger equals the same quantity of water required as a 90 minutes shower.
"Water demand globally is projected to increase by 55% between 2000 and 2050. Much of the demand is driven by agriculture, which accounts for 70% of global freshwater use, and food production will need to grow by 69% by 2035 to feed the growing population."

Install a Rainwater or Stormwater Tank

Where ever possibly consider installing a rainwater tank. The overall cost will soon reward you in reduced water bills. Rainwater tanks can be used to water your garden, flush your toilet and in some cases as shower water. Depending on treatment techniques.

Wastewater Reuse

Greywater which is not toilet water, the pumping is separated and the shower and sink are connected to a wastewater tank. Garden like greywater as long as you are using detergents and soaps low in sodium and phosphorus. Which for your own body you should be.

Waterless Toilets

Waterless toilets or ‘dry sanitation’ systems do not use water to treat or transport human excreta. If appropriately designed, they conserve precious water resources and avoid disposal of effluent and pollutants into waterways and the general environment.
They will also save money on water bills (learn more).


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Shocking Fact

To produce 1 hamburger the water usage is equal to a 90-minute shower.
Unfortunately, as we have determined humans have proved to be inefficient water users.
The average hamburger takes 2,400 liters, or 630 gallons, of water to produce, and many water-intensive crops, such as cotton, are grown in arid regions.

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Post written by Harper Sinclair. Content creator for ownmuse.com

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