March 22 is World Water Day. It is a time to reflect on that essential natural resource that most of us take for granted. After all, for those of us in the U.S., we don’t have to really think about water. We turn on the tap and out it flows, clean and plentiful. Every month we receive a bill for our water use, but the sum seems paltry in comparison to all the benefits water gives us. Why is water so undervalued in our country?
Water seems to be everywhere, so we don’t look at it as a finite resource. Lakes, rivers and oceans abound with the wet stuff. But our consumption of water is increasing, particularly for “non essential” tasks like watering a lawn and filling a pool. As more people move to dry areas like the southwestern portion of the U.S., the strain on water sources becomes more apparent. Conflicts between farmers, golf courses, home owners and businesses can get out of hand if precipitation levels are reduced even minutely.
What can be done to increase our perceived value of water? We need to recognize that (1) water is essential to all life on earth, (2) potable water is a finite resource, (3) and it belongs to all so we have a responsibility to care for it. When we realize that water is needed by everything in order to survive, we recognize the value and importance of it. When we think of clean drinking water as a finite resource, we realize that when we squander it, we deprive it from others. When we say that water belongs to everyone, we come to the conclusion that we all must do our part to protect the resource for generations to come. We cannot allow water to fall to the tragedy of commons – when a resource belongs to all, no one takes responsibility for it, thinking “Someone else will do it for me.”
As we near World Water Day, I will continue to blog about water issues and their importance, from the enigma that is bottled water to the impact of natural gas fracing on drinking water.