Water Scarcity: What Is It And What Is The Environmental Impact?
You may have heard that 71% of the earth is covered in water, but how much of that is actually okay to drink and easily accessible to humans and animals? Less than 1% of water on earth is usable for humans and animals. This means that 99% of water is either unsafe to use, is in the ocean, is in the form of ice caps or is floating around us in the air. In the grand scheme of things, water is not as accessible as we might think and that is an issue that is becoming increasingly worse.
Water scarcity is a global issue that affects countries all over the world. It is defined as the lack of access to clean, safe water for drinking, sanitation, and other basic needs. Water scarcity can be caused by a number of factors, including drought, climate change, population growth, and pollution. This issue is of particular concern in developing countries, where billions of people lack access to clean water.
Although, first world countries like the United States are starting to feel the effects of water scarcity too.
Water reservoir levels, particularly Lake Mead and Lake Powell in the US, have been going down at an alarming rate in more recent years with natural disasters such as flooding, droughts and other related disasters becoming more frequent.
What is the Environmental Impact of Water Scarcity?
There are a number of ways that the environment is impacted by water shortages.
While there is a finite amount of water on Earth, the amount that is available for human use is limited. And as demand for water grows, so does the pressure on our freshwater resources.
One of the most significant impacts of water scarcity is pollution. When water is scarce, it becomes more valuable and thus more likely to be polluted. This can have serious consequences for both humans and the environment. Water pollution can lead to health problems, including gastrointestinal illness, skin infections and respiratory problems. It can also contaminate drinking water supplies and damage natural ecosystems.
In addition to pollution, water scarcity also has other effects on the environment. For example, it can lead to drought and desertification. In the same way that droughts can lead to water scarcity.
Droughts are caused by a lack of precipitation, which means that there isn't enough water to meet the needs of people, plants, and animals. When drought conditions persist for months or years, they can have a profound impact on communities and ecosystems.
This can cause problems for farmers, who rely on water for their crops. This can result in food shortages and lead to malnutrition for communities and animals.
Droughts can also lead to increased human and animal exposure to contaminated water sources such as stagnant ponds or river water polluted with sewage. When animals drink from these contaminated ponds or rivers, they can spread the bacteria to humans through their faeces increasing the risk of contracting cholera. Cholera is caused by a bacterium called Vibrio cholera that is found in contaminated water.
Water scarcity also affects industry and cities, which need water for manufacturing and drinking.
Industry uses water for many different purposes, including cooling, processing, and cleaning. When water is scarce, industries must find ways to cut back on their use of water or find alternative sources.
This can often be difficult and expensive.
For example, the textile industry uses large amounts of water to clean and dye fabrics. In fact, it takes over 10,000 litres (2641.7 gallons) of water to produce just one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of cotton fabric. With global demand for textiles expected to continue to rise, this places a strain on already limited water resources.
As a result of dwindling water supplies, these industries are facing increased production costs and decreased output.
The water that is discharged from factories also adds more pollutants into the environment. This can cause serious harm to ecosystems and human health.
What Can You Do To Help Our Water Supplies?
There are many ways to help prevent water scarcity, both on an individual and societal level.
One of the most important things individuals can do is to conserve water in their daily lives. This can be done by simple things like turning off the tap while brushing your teeth or taking shorter showers. On a larger scale, governments and businesses can help prevent water scarcity by investing in efficient irrigation systems and promoting water conservation initiatives.
Consider investing in a tank that can collect and store rainwater, particularly for irrigation and flushing the toilet.
Another great investment to make for your home is a home filtration system. If there ever is a natural disaster or if there’s water contamination in your area, then you know you’ll be protected for the most part. The Survivor Filter Max home filter is easy to install too, so you don’t need to worry about the extra cost of hiring a plumber.
Find wetlands that you can support in conserving around your area.
Educate yourself on the effects of chemicals in our water systems and the long-term problems that they will likely cause for our health and environments.