It’s amazing how much is taken for granted in our daily lives. It is easy for the average person to forget how important the simplest joys are to us. Despite facing a global water crisis, major cities in the United States have running water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are cities and villages in the world that go weeks without running water. Could you imagine what that would be like? If you went to your faucet and turned the knob but nothing came out, not even a drip? Water is a life source and the one thing that every single living organism needs to live. Sadly, we continue to ignore this growing threat. Instead of adapting our water practices as a society, we just become more and more desperate to get what we need. We drill deeper and pump more water out of the aquifers to meet demand. We transport water to where there is none. As scarcity of water grows, privatization of water will increase and it will then become a money game.
Further complicating the problem is that we are contaminating what little freshwater remains for human use. Agriculture irrigation requires great amounts of water which leads to cross contamination as chemicals are absorbed into the groundwater from crop fields. Manufacturing and power industries also require massive amounts of water leading to the depletion of natural water resources. As water is pumped through factories and manufacturing plants, there are always wastes and other toxins that are picked up in the stream. As water goes through the water cycle, so do the contaminants. Aside from big industry, people’s personal behavior also adds to water contamination. Dumping compost in yards, washing cars outside, and added exhaust from cars as populations grow all produce toxins that are absorbed into the water system.
In the past five years, globally we have seen some of the hottest seasons and longest droughts in history. As economics teaches us, supply and demand guide pricing. When we are faced with a water shortage, much like the gas shortage of the 1980s in the United States, demand will be far greater than supply causing water to become a valuable commodity. Unfortunately, water is already a commodity. In some countries, water costs more than sodas and other beverages. Municipal water rates are increasing worldwide. Water is already a blue ocean (no pun intended) in the global economy. The privatized water companies are positioning themselves to be in control of the water supply when the water crisis is felt fully in this country. I believe that sooner rather than later, we will find out what it’s like to live in a dessert where water resources are few and far between.
I’ve already seen the beginning stages of scarcity. There is an active legal battle going on right now in the state of Oklahoma among the state, the Native American tribes, and Tarrant County, Texas over water rights. Tarrant County wants to buy water from the state of Oklahoma and pipe it down to the north Dallas-Fort Worth area. Their answer to solve their water crisis is to buy it from someone else instead of implementing proactive conservation methods and become more sustainable. This is just one example of the many that will be sure to come as we continue to deplete our water sources faster than the Earth can renew them. It’s only a matter of time before people realize the threat facing us and start taking action into their own hands. Water is one commodity that really is life or death.
If you want to do some investigating on your own, I would suggest the documentary “Blue Gold: World Water Wars.” Some other great organizations working to aid those directly impacted by the global water crises are Water for People, Food and Water Watch, and the Water Project.