Water is life! We have heard this all of our lives. But what is the current worldwide water situation? How can we be better managers of this vital resource in our day-to-day lives? This two part article shares water facts (some of the facts are scary) and how we can better manage our water. Let’s get started!
The world contains an estimated 1,400 million cubic km of water. Only 0.003% of this amount is “fresh water”– water that can be used for drinking, hygiene, and agriculture. Almost 70 percent of the Earth’s fresh water is used for agricultural purposes. One fifth of the world’s population, approximately 1.2 billion people, lives in areas of physical water scarcity.
Traditionally, Caribbean islands consume water quite differently than Latin American countries, as the islands rely greatly on the hospitality/tourism industry. The tourism sector has more hotels, excursion parks and other businesses that rely on water. We have seen this here on Roatán. The pressure on the water supply has grown immensely on Roatán in the last 15 years with a doubling of the population and increased tourist visits.
Most of the water on Roatán comes from groundwater wells. Over-use of the groundwater can cause major problems to human users and to the environment. The most evident problem is a lowering of the water table beyond the reach of existing wells. Wells must consequently be deepened to reach the groundwater. A lowered water table may, in turn, cause other problems such as saltwater intrusion, fouling the fresh water wells.
Another unfortunate factor affecting the management of water on Roatán is a lack of understanding regarding fresh water availability by both the public and private sectors. Water has been undervalued for many years in this country and culturally many people believe that access to drinking water is a right and should be free. The result is waste. Both sectors have to understand that this precious liquid has to have a proper price/value attached to it. Only then will users value this precious resource.
You can take help save our precious waters by taking steps to save water in your home! Fixing leaks in your faucets and toilets can save money daily. Turning off the water when not in use, for a family of 4, can save up to 32 gallons a day. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth and you are already conserving water. Low flush toilets can reduce water consumption by 60%. Installing low flow shower heads can save up money as well!
Using better water conservation practices at home can surely save water. We live on an island and are surrounded by water but we have very limited fresh water. If we all work together to save our fresh water, we can make a difference!