Water is an essential part of life and with slightly more than 7 billion people in the world, the demand for it is escalating. Just like peak oil, there is such a thing as peak water — a growing population has consequences. Less than 1% of freshwater is available to drink on Earth, and the U.S. has the biggest water footprint in the world. We are consuming more water than the Earth can renew, and that is a major problem.
The Eco-Reps’ recent green film, Last Call at the Oasis, is about this horrific crisis that is affecting the U.S. Taking water for granted is a common trend. We leave the tap on while brushing our teeth or decide to take a longer shower. Here in America, we have running water in our houses 24/7, yet we choose to buy bottled water and bring it back to a place that already has fresh water. We are taking a public source and turning it into a private commodity.
Rider may not be entering a water crisis as of right now, but our country is approaching one. Central Valley, Calif. produces 25% of the food for the country, according to Dr. James S. Famiglietti of the University of California. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, farmers have the highest water supply usage, which, in most states, is up to 90%. Farmers pump groundwater from aquifers, which have taken thousands of years just to collect. It’s predicted that they will all be depleted within the next 60 years. No water means no future.
Not only is there an issue with the depletion of our water, but the little we have left is being contaminated. New pollutants, such as birth control pills and antibiotics, are entering our water stream when they leave our bodies, and they can’t be detected when the water is being filtered. Only five out of 80,000 chemicals are controlled by the Environmental Protection Agency. People are under the illusion that bottled water is safer and purer, when in fact it isn’t regulated as carefully as tap water.
Albert Einstein once said, “Those who have the privilege to know, have the duty to act.” Now that you know, take the responsibility to act. We can’t wait for the government to solve these issues. It needs to start with us.
Printed in the 4/19/13 edition.