Posts Tagged 'Global Water Crisis'

No Water Gets No Attention

In a revealing article on Canadian Maude Barlow by Embassy Magazine, the newly minted senior adviser on water to the UN General Assembly, lets loose on what has driven her for the past 23 years: Water. With her new position, she is seeking to position water-related issues into the global forefront, alongside poverty and food issues.

Since WaterDrop started this blog, we’ve been continually seeking the information to show that water is a growing crisis that is looming underneath the world’s radar. Ms. Barlow frankly states that more deaths are caused by water-borne diseases than by war, traffic accidents and HIV combined. These alarming facts are true and the water crisis receives very little attention.

I find it astounding that in both this country and the United States, there was another federal election with not one mention of water. I find it astounding. I mean in the U.S., there are seven states in absolute crisis now. To me it’s such a disconnect and it’s still the biggest problem we have.

Ms. Barlow strives to ensure the clean water that we currently have is protected and that the private sector does not have the power to dictate costs over those who need pure, clean water the most. She believes that technology is not the answer to the question.

Can we protect the sources we have as best as we can or are we going to cavalierly destroy them and then assume technology will clean it up?

Check out the full article here.

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Water for Life

Want to find a way to make an impact on the global water crisis in a hands-on way? Samaritan’s Purse runs a program called “Water for Life” that sends Canadians across the world to implement their Household Water Program in communities that have little or no access to safe water.

The program works closely with local partners within the community to develop the water program. The great thing about the program is that they strongly support a continuing relationship with the local community. Samaritan’s Purse has partnered with the CIDA since 1998 and currently have programs running in 19 countries around the world.

If you’re interested in making an impact with the program. Follow this link.

According to the United Nation’s Water for Life Decade program:

  • 1.1 Billion people lacked access to improved water sources
  • 2.6 billion (42%) of the world population lacked access to basic sanitation
  • Of the 1.1 billion without access to improved water sources, nearly two thirds live in Asia
  • 1.8 million people die every year from diarrhoeal diseases (including cholera); 90% are children under 5, mostly in developing countries.
  • 80% of the population without access to drinking-water were rural dwellers, but future population growth will be mainly urban.

Canada’s own Maude Barlow named senior UN water advisor

Maude Barlow, a world-renowned water activist and Canadian, has been named the senior water advisor for the United Nations. She will be working closely with Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, president of the 63rd session of the United Nations, to bring the water issue into a global light.

She is attempting to work with the United Nations to introduce a three-pronged plan.

Three goals: Use the incredible talent, research and resources that exist at the UN and give it direction, a vision and cohesion. Second: To shift the power balance around water from institutions like the World Bank and World Water Forum and give them transparency at the UN General Assembly. And third, he is supportive of the principle of the universal right to water. We will be unveiling a plan on Dec. 10, which is the 60th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights – Maude Barlow.

Check out the full article here. It’s a great article with Ms. Barlow expressing great concern on the growing global water crisis. Not only does she talk about the water of the world at large, but the impact Canada has on the world’s water supply. Why don’t we prevent a problem before it begins? Canada is not impervious to water problems, there are growing water scarcities all over the country.

You can check out a documentary on water that recently came out here. The film is called “Flow” and has  been featured in film festivals all across the world (with Sundance being one of them). Maude Barlow is featured heavily in this film. The documentary asks us a vital question: can anyone really own water?

Water – Nature’s Abundant Gift?

Water is a mysterious but crucial substance.  Its origins and properties still evoke debate, despite its existence by some accounts dating back 3.8 Billion years.  Its forms alone are worthy of investigation. Water is the only substance whose solid form is less dense than its liquid, carrying tremendous implications for aquatic life.  In any of its forms, it can not be created, destroyed, nor leave the earth.  As such, it exists in a closed cycle known as the hydrosphere.  In the hydrological cycle, water circles through the earths system of reservoirs.  These reservoirs are numerous and well known, including: atmosphere (clouds and rain), oceans, lakes, rivers, ground water, icecaps, saturated soil and subterranean aquifers.  The water moves between these various reservoirs through the process of evapotranspiration, a name used to encompass the processes of evaporation (from oceans), sublimation (from lakes/rivers) and transpiration (from vegetation).

Figure 1. The hydrological cycle. (Trenberth et al. 2006a).

Between the numerous reservoirs, just how much water exists on the earth is a difficult number to determine.  It is impossible to know exactly.  Water trapped below the surface and that locked in ice caps and perma frost can never be measured exactly.  One of the best known estimates comes from Igor Shikloanov from the State Hydrological Institute in St. Petersburg.  His self admittedly crude estimate hits the 1.4 billion cubic km mark.  However, this huge number is misleading if not understood.  To represent that amount that is available for human consumption, more than 97% must be removed because ocean water is too salty to drink or use for irrigation.  A remaining 2.5% , or about 35 million cubic km is found in a freshwater state.  Unfortunately, this figure too requires further reduction.  At any one time, a small percent of the total is in the form of rain, clouds, fog or tied up in the biosphere.  An even more noteworthy chunk occupies 75% of the small freshwater total, locked and unusable in polar ice caps and tundra snow cover. Freshwater lakes and rivers, the renewable source we are concerned about preserving is a mere 90 000 cubic kilometers (a mere .26% of an already small 2.5% source).

A mere 0.26 percent of the water on Earth is drinkable.

Marg De Villers, author of award winning Water, creates a vivid image to make the numbers more manageable.  If all the worlds water was to be held in a 5L container, the usable freshwater source would occupy only a teaspoon.

When we know what we are working with, the need for conservation and proper management becomes overwhelmingly apparent.

Who Owns Water?

Countless sources point out that water is headed towards a crisis. Little do we know, we are in the midst of a worldwide water crisis.

Is water a human right?

Many believe that water is a renewable resource, that once it is used, more can be manufactured, created, manufactured and so on. This is not true. Corporations believe that water is a commodity. In a study by the Environmental Business Journal, the United States alone generated over 100 billion dollars in revenue from water in 2003. The study also states that the industry is growing by 10 percent every year.

However, is water a commodity? In an article by Kathleen O’Hara of the Toronto Star entitled World Views Collide Over Water, she points to dedicated individuals like the Council of Canadians chair, Maude Barlow (she also wrote the book Blue Covenant: the Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right of Water). O’Hara points out that “on one side, large corporations with, as Barlow points out, the assistance of most First World governments, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization and even the United Nations, are trying to promote the concept of water as a commodity, like oil, to be owned, sold and traded.” O’Hara also goes on to quote Barlow that these corporations and organizations “have established an elaborate infrastructure to promote the private control of water, and they work in close tandem with one another.”

On the other side of the fence, there are people that Barlow believes that water is “the common heritage of all humans and other species, as well as a public trust that must not be appropriated for personal profit or denied to anyone because of an inability to pay.”

Which side of the fence would you choose? Is water a human right or a commodity to be bought, sold, packaged, marketed, traded and bartered with? With the dwindling fresh water reserves around the world, do you want someone to control that water in order to make a profit or do you believe that it is something that must be guarded, protected and shared. It’s a simple choice, but a relevant one considering the global water crisis that is underway. We all have one thing in common, from the villager in the smallest African communities to the inhabitant of sprawling metropolitan centres; we need water to live. Do we deserve to own water?

The Message in the Bottle is a Lie

Every time you twist the lid off a cool, supposedly pure and crisp, 250m bottle of water, you spend $1.50. A litre of gas for your car costs, on average, costs $1.35 per litre. A litre of water is $6.00 and a litre of gas is $1.35. You do the math. When did water become more expensive than gas?

Drinking water is the new oil.

We have no idea when we will run out of fossil fuels, but a study by the UN states that two-thirds of the world will lack access to drinkable water. I say why not knock two birds out with one stone. Are we this blind and stupid that we buy water that is pumped right out of our own backyards? 40 percent of bottled water is pumped out of our own taps and resold to us. Wow, do I feel stupid. Secondly, the amount oil used annually to produce and transport bottled water is 17 million barrels a year, or the equivalent of running 1 million cars for a year.

These are all stunning reasons to stop drinking bottled water, but on the financial side, it also makes sense. For example, the suggested amount of water an individual should drink is 8 cups a day. There are 236m in a cup of water. If you apply the fact that a bottle of water contains 250ml of H2O, you almost need 7 or 8 bottle of water a day.

If we were to assume on the extreme end and conclude that you drink 7 to 8 bottles of $1.50 water, That would equal $12 a day, $84 a week, $336 a month and finally…$3,528 to $4,032 dollars a year. I know that we all don’t drink that much water in a day, much less spend $12 a day on bottled water, but a gallon of water from the tap is 250 to 1,000 times cheaper than bottled water. Bottled water companies are only audited for sanitation every three years and city water is checked everyday. Again, you do the math. The idea that bottled water is healthier is a lie. Tap water is just as, or maybe even more pure than bottled water. I don’t even want to get into plastic contaminate issues associated with bottled water.

You can check out a four-year study by the National Resource Defence Council here. They point out all the pros of drinking tap water versus bottle water. You make the choice.

Simply put, if you don’t drink bottled water, you save money, save water and save the earth. That’s a combo that can’t be beat.

 


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