International World Water Day is held every year on March 22 to focus global attention on the importance of water and advocating for the sustainable management of our water resources. It began after an international day to celebrate water at being recommended at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992. The first celebration began the next year, with every year a new theme.
The theme for 2011 is ‘Water and Urbanization,’ reflecting the importance of water in ever-growing urban populations around the world.
Quick facts about urbanization and water:
- 1 in 2 people on the planet live in a city.
- Every second, the urban population grows by 2 people.
- 95% of the urban population growth in the next thirty years will take place in the developing world.
- 40% of the world’s urban growth is the growth of informal settlements.
- Currently, 827.6 million people live in these informal settlements, which often lack adequate drinking water and sanitation facilities.
- A lack of safe water and sanitation in cities leads to cholera, malaria and diarrhea.
- The poor pay more. Someone living in an informal settlement in Nairobi pays 5 to 7 times more for a liter of water than an average North American citizen.
The impact of rapid urban population growth in developing countries and informal settlements with no access to safe water is one of the most pressing, and challenging, issues for the water sector. Local governance reform and greater investment and sustainable financial management of the local water supply are the keys to positively impacting the world’s water.
Great opportunities exist for recycling and reusing water and wastes in the developing world, which also has the great side benefit of minimizing environmental and downstream pollution. If you have the good fortune to live where water is clean, safe, and relatively affordable, one of the best things you can do is to reduce your consumption.
Top Ten Ways To Reduce Water Consumption and Save You Money:
- Check your home for leaks. Water leaks in a toilet or sink may be subtle. The easiest way to check for a water leak at Planet Green.
- Take shorter showers. My 7 year old has had to use a timer, otherwise he would play all day in there. Just a minute or two can save 150 gallons a week.
- Turn off the water when not in use. This will also help with #2! Turn off the shower when lathering up. Turn off the sink when brushing teeth. Turn off the sink faucet when putting a dish into the dishwasher or skip rinsing dishes altogether! Teach little ones to make sure faucets are turned off after use.
- Reduce use of garbage disposal. By composting your veggie waste, you can save several gallons of water for each use!
- Run the dishwasher and clothes washer only when full. Surprisingly, you can save up to 1,000 gallons a month!
- Manage watering lawns and landscaping. You can measure how much water your lawn actually gets by using a rain gauge or empty can and then adjust your water accordingly. Lawns only need one inch per week. When you do water, do so in the early morning or evening to avoid evaporation. Or simply choose drought-resistant and native plants that need less water.
- Collect rain water, and excess shower water, to water lawn and plants. If you will use this water on edible plants and gardens, take care if you are collecting from an asphalt roof, a PVC gutter, or have less desirable material cluttering up your gutter. This water is a great way to water lawns, plants and even use to flush toilets.
- Install low flow shower heads. These can reduce your water use by 50%, but increases velocity so your shower feels the same.
- Keep a pitcher of cold water in the refrigerator, instead of running the tap.
- Insulate hot water pipes and heater. The less time you have to wait for the water to warm up, the more water and money you’ll save!
How can you conserve your water use? How can you celebrate World Water Day 2011?