By Madison Day | Assistant News Editor
On our planet, there are more than 326 million trillion gallons of water. Of those gallons, less than 3 percent is fresh water that humans can drink, and about two-thirds of that percentage are within glaciers and ice caps, according to WWF Global.
Here in America and in many other industrialized nations around the world, we do not think about our water usage very much — you go to the sink, turn on the faucet and get a nice, cold, clean glass of water. It’s so easy and second nature for us that often we take our easy access clean water for granted.
Just a few weeks ago, the city of Austin experienced a crisis in which the water coming out of the treatment facility was unsafe to drink. Due to the immense amounts of flooding the city and surrounding areas were experiencing, the water treatment facility was pulling in more water than it could filter, and thus silted and residue-filled waters were entering Austinites’ faucets.
Plastic water bottles were selling out in grocery stores, and residents were having to boil their tap water before drinking or cooking with it. Officials were urging residents to reduce their water usage by about 15 to 20 percent to prevent the city from running out of water, according to an Austin-American Statesman article.
“Austin water treatment plants can currently produce 105 million gallons of water per day. Current customer use is about 120 million gallons per day,” officials told the Statesman. “Water reservoir levels are reaching minimal levels.”
For just over a week, Austinites were faced with the struggle of not having easy access to clean water — a struggle many around the world deal with daily. We forget there are people around the world who have to walk miles every day to get water for themselves and their families.
Today, 1 in 9 people live without access to safe drinking water, according to water.org, an organization that helps provide clean drinking water to people in need. This accounts for about 844 million people.
This crisis affects women and children even more, as they are typically the ones who go collect the water for their families. When women are spending a majority of their day collecting water, this prevents them from pursuing a career outside of their traditional roles. Children are unable to attend school and gain an education if they are out fetching water for their families.
It is easy to take for granted the ease we have to access clean water because often we just don’t think that much about it. We need to start thinking about water as a precious resource that is not by any means unlimited. The increasing global population means a greater demand for fresh water.
Not only is it selfish of us to carelessly use our water, considering so many around the world do not have easy access to it, but it is also irresponsible, considering how little fresh water we really have access to on our planet.
We need water to live. Our children will need water to live. All humans and living things need water to live. Let’s not abuse the right to clean drinking water, and let’s start focusing more on how can we can use what we have more wisely.
Madison is a sophomore journalism major from Austin.