Water Indeed Matters Here in the Midwest

Water indeed matters.  Yesterday began the 5 part seminar series I’ve been working on collaboratively with St. Louis University and University of Missouri-STL Harris World Ecology Center.  Dr. Patrick Osborne, Director of the Harris Center, presented the global picture linking water with climate change.  What we here in St Louis take for granted—abundant clean fresh water—other parts of the developing world struggle to find on a daily basis. March 22nd 2010 is World Water Day.  This is an initiative that began in 1993 by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.  According to OneDrop.org, “The average American uses 150 gallons of water each day, while people in developing countries struggle to find 5.”  Conserve Water video In those countries, collecting water consumes their waking hours, and in many cases, the water they find and depend upon is vastly unsanitary because that source has been used for human waste and/or is polluted by unregulated industrial byproducts.  We are lucky to have such fresh water in our aquifers. Ground water is particularly good in the Midwest because layers of earth and time take rain and surface run off and filter to its underground purity. According to naturalatlas.gov, aquifers can be as new as hours and deeper wells as old as thousands of years in the making. Here in the Midwest, as well as in developing countries without adequate water sources, wells are being used at rates that will outstrip the natural time it took for water to collect in the aquifer. In parts of the world where the population is exploding, or where arid conditions prevail, wells are being emptied for human survival.  As our world population climbs to a predicted 9 billion by the end of this century, water will become an even more precious staple, and may become worth fighting for.  I hope as we come to see the state of water as a shared global necessity, we humans will rise to the challenge to protect and allow for its renewal naturally.  Creative solution might come from population management in the form of reproductive education for women so they can focus on health for their own and their children’s lives.  Desalination might be another answer given that our planet is 97% water.  But
taking the salt out of water is energy intensive at the moment.  What I hope we don’t create is “Water in a pill.”  I’d hate for technology to market a chemical equivalent to what comes to us naturally through the ecosystem. My fear is that chemists wouldn’t just create a way to make H2O, but would make superH2hypedO, just because “we could” and money was to be made.  I hope that with the state of water in a world of bulging population we humans will come together and take responsibility for our actions that contribute to water shortage.  If we all pitched in for our own little part of the world we could make a tremendous ripple in the global pond.  Session two through five of the Water Matter Series will focus on solutions we can practice at home and work.  In session two, Chad Pregracke of Living Lands and Waters Organization will speak about his dedication to the
rivers.  In session 3, our utilities will share their ideas for water conservation. And in sessions 4 and 5, local nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity will share how they support water health. Like our donations sent to Katrina and Haiti, small heart-felt contributions make a difference.  If you’d like to calculate your water footprint for World Water Day, check out water footprint. My water footprint was 577.80 gallons per day!  This site estimates that the average American uses 1,190.5 per day–way higher than the 150 cited above.  It is my 15 minute showers that I need to work on! Hope to see you on the next 4 Wednesdays from 7:30 a.m. until 9:30 [March 24th through April 14th] at SLU.  WaterMatters Website

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