Green Corner: Water, water everywhere — but not for long

Winter is behind us and now the warmer weather of spring is finally here, which means we are spending more time outdoors. Students can be seen sitting outside to study or running around campus getting their workout in. Can you imagine heading back to your dorm after a nice run in the fresh spring air, going for a drink of water and having none readily available? What would you do if you didn’t have easy access to clean drinking water any time of day or night that you wanted it?

As World Water Day floated by on March 22, these issues floated back into our consciences. As college students, not many of us have to worry about water. Here at Rider, our water supply is tested annually and proven to be clean. We can stand in the shower for as long as we want; potable water will continue to flow. The quality of the drinking water from our water bottle refill stations, water fountains and sinks is on par with, if not better and safer than water bottled in plastic.

But we’re lucky because not everyone can easily obtain something as essential as water. The International Business Times reports that 1.8 billion people around the world don’t have access to safe, clean water. The World Economic Forum ranked our water crisis as first among global risks in terms of potential devastation to society. And every 90 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease.

All across this planet, people are hurting in the one resource they need most: water. Women wash their clothes in the same water their husbands and kids bathe in. Children laugh and swim in rivers so cloudy and so brown, the water from Flint, Michigan, looks like a godsend. On the other side of the river, families and businesses dump their trash in the murky waters.

And don’t think that this lack of sanitary water is just limited to rural villages we’ve never heard of, in third-world countries we’ll never see. Colleges such as Ithaca are now dealing with supposedly “safe” levels lead in their water. A subject of major controversy, the water in Flint, ran brown and contained high levels of chemicals such as lead. Here in New Jersey, the city of Newark boasts levels of lead in water running through schools that is even higher than in Flint. We truly need water for drinking, bathing and cleaning – so why are we struggling to procure and protect this resource?

To put it simply, it’s because we are abusing it.

We are polluting our waters at devastatingly high rates. National Geographic reports that 2 million tons of human waste is disposed in our waterways every single day. And that’s just human waste, not chemical, plastic or trash waste.

We are wasting our water. The Huffington Post reports that 95 percent of the water that passes through our homes goes down our drains, and that Americans are using 127 percent more water now as opposed to in 1950.

We are forgetting about the limits to our water. Water is not a renewable resource. We only have as much as exists on the planet right now, not including the staggering 97 percent that is saltwater and is therefore undrinkable and unsuitable for hygienic purposes.

But our fight against water does not need to be contaminated by only scary statistics, and it doesn’t have to permanently poison our future. Whether you live on campus or at home, just shutting off the water while you brush your teeth will save over four gallons of water. Don’t stand under the showers in the dorms for hours, just because you can. When filling up a water bottle, make sure you drink your water and don’t throw it down the drain. The changes we make to our lifestyles may seem small, but collectively, their impact is enormous.

On April 7, the Office of Sustainability will be hosting a round table discussion in observance of World Water Day at 8 p.m. in the Bart Luedeke Center Theater. Experts will be there to discuss the topics of water contamination, conservation and more. I encourage everyone to come, to ask questions and to learn more about what impact they can make as both college students and as inhabitants of this planet. At the end of the day, we all need our water. So why aren’t we all trying to save it?

 

—Samantha Sawh

Lawrenceville Eco Rep

 

Printed in the 3/30/16 issue.

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