Imagine this. You get up in the morning, take your typical five-minute shower, then proceed to the sink to brush your teeth. Only thing is, when you turn on the faucet to wet your toothbrush, nothing comes out. Curious, you head to the kitchen and try the sink—same result, no water. The rest of the day you come up “dry” everywhere—it seems you depleted your daily allotment of water just by taking that shower. As crazy as this may sound to us, it’s a reality for millions of people in developing countries around the world, who have to make do with less water in a day than we use during our morning shower.
Scarcity. It’s defined as a resource being insufficient for the demand. It may be hard for many of us to think of water in these terms—after all, 70% of our planet is covered in it, and rain seems to fall several times a week. But water scarcity is a huge problem for billions of people. I’m not just talking about the “inconvenience” of not being able to make a cup of coffee one morning. I’m talking major, life-threatening situations resulting from water scarcity.
We often talk numbers when it comes to water—how many gallons are required to do or make something, or the amount of money required to upgrade infrastructure. But on the topic of water scarcity, we can look at a different set of numbers to drive home the point of just how scarce water is today.
- 3%: Of water on the planet is fresh
- 1%: Of fresh water on the planet is accessible to all the people living on it
- 1.1 billion: People worldwide without access to clean, safe water
- 2.7 billion: People who experience water scarcity at least one month per year
- 2.4 billion: People living in unsanitary conditions due to water scarcity
We have more numbers that demonstrate how vital it is that we work toward solving the scarcity problem—quickly.
- 1 million: People who die each year from water, sanitation and hygiene-related disease
- Every 2 minutes: A child dies from a water-related crisis
It’s staggering to think of the impact that water scarcity and lack of access to clean water has on people. From aging infrastructure and booming population growth to drought brought on by climate variability and water contamination to any number of topics we’ve discussed in Water Street, water scarcity is a significant problem right here in the U.S.
Knowing that the problem exists—and equally important, recognizing the extent to which it exists and impacts all of our lives—is a critical first step in working toward addressing and eliminating water scarcity. This knowledge and expertise is what has water companies, governments, activists and advocates around the world working together to formulate solutions that increase water availability and access to communities in need. Fortunately, the initiatives, educational campaigns and technological innovations are helping, as more people, businesses and industries shift their lifestyles and daily operations in ways that are bringing about a significant decline in Americans’ water consumption. We need these efforts to continue and grow without interruption so that we can not only conserve water but also make it a safe and reliable resource for people around the world.