DILEMMA_waterWater is a limited resource. Less than one percent of water on Earth is available for human use. We use water for thermoelectric power, irrigation, aquaculture, industrial production, and various domestic activities. Most of us in highly developed countries take our water supply for granted, but we are increasingly vulnerable to water shortages, contaminated water, and the toxic effects of using plastic bottled water.

The Need for Water Efficiency

In the United States, the Forestry Service has projected a worrisome vulnerability to severe water shortages by 2080 or before stemming from population increases and climate change in the Southwest, California, and the southern and central Great Plains.[1]  Globally, one billion people on the planet do not have access to safe drinking water. Internationally, water shortages are projected in Brazil, the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, and China.[2] Even if you live in a water-abundant state or country, your water supply will be depleted because future water shortages in one part of the country/world will put demands on water supplies in other parts of the country/world.

Contaminated Drinking Water in the U.S.

26370820_mCurrent water infrastructure systems do not ensure contaminant-free drinking water. Between 2002 and 2009, approximately 7 to 13 percent of children aged 0 to 17 years were served by community water systems that did not meet EPA water safety standards.[3]  And over half of water samples in the U.S. tested positive for 25 or more pharmaceutical drugs, such as high blood pressure medications. This is due to the fact that there are currently no state or federal regulations regarding pharmaceutical compounds in water.[4]

Agricultural and industrial production practices also introduce chemicals into our drinking water sources. Synthetic fertilizers and pesticides can leach into ground water or spill into rivers and lakes as run off. Over 50 pesticide residues have been detected in drinking water.[5] Atrazine, an herbicide that was banned in the European Union in 2005, is the most frequently detected pesticide in U.S. drinking water. Atrazine is thought to be an endocrine disruptor, and it has been linked with hermaphroditism in frogs (development of both male and female sexual attributes).[6]

The most recent addition to industrial water pollution is found in the hundreds of chemicals used in hydraulic fracking,[7] wherein fluids are pumped deep into the ground to create fractures that release natural gas. The problem is that this toxic concoction is dumped into lakes and rivers or leaks into groundwater supplies.[8]

Watch the documentary, Gasland, to learn more about the risks of fracking. And check out how your city ranks on clean water.

29569761_mThe Truth about Bottled Water

Bottled water is not necessarily safer than tap water and is definitely worse for the environment. Due to industry influence, the FDA’s safety standards for bottled water are much lower than the EPA’s standards are for tap water. Studies have demonstrated that 33 percent of bottled water “violated an enforceable state standard or exceeded microbiological-purity guidelines, or both, in at least one sample.”[9] Moreover, the environmental impact is massive. Approximately 17 million barrels of oil are used each year to produce water bottles, excluding energy for transportation.[10] And only 20 percent of water bottles are recycled.[11] The rest photodegrade over hundreds of years, a process in which the plastic fragments into small pieces that pollute our water and food sources.[12]

Watch the documentaries, Blue Gold and Tapped, to learn more about the risks of bottled water.


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