What is water conservation?
The term water conservation is used for all activities, practices, and techniques aimed at consciously and sustainably using the freshwater available on our planet, as well as protecting and preserving freshwater sources like rivers, lakes, aquifers, groundwater, and wetlands.
Of all the water on the planet, only 3% is freshwater; of this amount, only 0.5% is potable and available. The main goal of water conservation is to protect natural ecosystems and ensure the availability of this vital resource in the long term to meet human needs.
What measures can be taken to support water conservation?
- Efficient use of water at home: small daily practices can help save large amounts of water. These include:
- Shutting off the taps while water is not being used during showers, toothbrushing, etc.
- Repairing water leaks in taps and pipes, however small.
- Installing water-saving devices, such as high-pressure and low-flow shower heads, toilets with flow control options, faucets with flow regulators, etc.
- Using water-saving cycles on washing machines and dishwashers.
- Smart irrigation: in both domestic settings and industrial contexts, it is possible to implement irrigation methods that are efficient and more suitable for each situation to minimize any water waste in gardens and for raising crops. Humidity sensors and weather stations can also help implement more efficient irrigation.
In the agricultural field, an option for conserving water besides good irrigation systems is choosing crops that require less water, following crop rotation methods and using seasonal crops, and preparing soils to improve water retention.
- Reduction of pollutants: to decrease water footprints in both agriculture and industry, one essential step is preventing the use of water-polluting agents, such as fertilizers, pesticides, chemicals, heavy metals, etc., as much as possible. In the domestic sphere, less water pollution can be achieved by using eco-friendly cleaning products.
- Wastewater treatment and reuse: in the industrial and governmental arenas, water treatment is of particular importance. It serves a dual function: first, it allows making the most of the water used in industrial processes; second, wastewater prevents contaminated water from being released into nature.
Naturally, education has a key role in raising the world population’s awareness. This is what encourages the progressive adoption of responsible practices in everyday use on personal and community levels. At the industrial level, legislation and implementation of training programs promote good practices, and this reduces the significant impact that the industry has on water resources.
What problems are related to the lack of water conservation?
The main problems associated with little or poor water conservation have to do with the resource’s scarcity as the world’s population and industrial demand both increase; at the same time, there is pollution of resources stemming from still-growing industry.
About one million people around the world do not have clean drinking water; about 80% of the world’s deaths are associated with water-related diseases. The United Nations Organization estimates that, by 2025, between five and eight million people in the world will not have enough water to meet their basic needs.
The rising world population, with its resulting expansion of agriculture and industrialization, has increased the demand for water, while water pollution has also increased. At the same time, emissions have boosted climate change, which causes drought and decreases reserves, among other things.
Meanwhile, rural areas and developing countries often have sewage system and sanitation problems that add to the contamination of both the drinking water sources themselves and the soil and groundwater reserves.
Scarcity has led to over-extraction of this resource from lakes, rivers, and watersheds, which causes serious environmental damage. In fact, the earth’s axis has tilted; this has been due to some extent to natural phenomena, but it is largely because of groundwater extraction and melting ice, a product of climate change.
Why is water conservation important?
Water conservation is essential for the 2030 Sustainability Strategy, particularly Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #6: Clean Water and Sanitation. Water is a limited resource that is essential for life; water conservation enables:
- Maintaining the balance of ecosystems, preserving biodiversity, and mitigating climate change.
- Ensuring the drinking water supply for human life.
- Facing the growing demand for drinking water due to the increase in the world’s population, as well as the increase in living standards and hygiene.
- Preventing overuse of the planet’s water resources.
- Reducing costs and emissions associated with drinking water extraction and wastewater treatment.