Appreciating Water

Appreciating Water

by Rod Dempsey


It has been said that we don’t appreciate some things until they’re gone—an observation that can be especially true when those things have always been part of our lives and we have no knowledge or experience of being without them.

For most of us, an abundant supply of clean and inexpensive water is one of the things we’ve been able to take for granted. Whether we use a municipal system or private well, all the water we desire has been as near as the kitchen faucet.

Unfortunately, the ease with which we so effortlessly obtain clean water makes it easy to forget the vital role it plays in our lives. Not only is it essential to sustain our bodies, but it is also essential to the functioning of our homes and buildings. It is critical to agriculture and is a necessary input to many manufacturing processes. Simply put, where there is no water, there can be no civilization.

As we read local stories about the contamination of groundwater due to nitrates and the occasional issuance of municipal boil water orders and global stories about climate change and recurrent droughts that are already affecting millions of people, it becomes easier to appreciate the advantages we still enjoy with regard to our water supply.

A quick look at what is happening in other parts of the world may help even further. – In Libya, efforts have been underway since 1991 to construct a 4,000 kilometer long underground network of 4 meter diameter pipes and 270 pumping stations to tap into the non- rechargeable Nubian Sandstone Aquifer system that lies beneath the Sahara Desert.

Known as the Great Man Made River, the project will have a final cost of at least $25 billion.1

- In Australia, six years of drought have left residents of Sydney prohibited from washing their cars or watering their lawns. Gardens may only be watered on designated days.2 – In rural townships of South Africa, some people obtain water by inserting a prepaid card into a water meter. When the value of the card is exhausted, they must pay more money to have its value restored or go without water.3

Although it is unlikely that any of these situations will occur in Prince Edward Island, it does help us realize that not all people have equal opportunity when it comes to water supply and access. Hopefully, understanding this can motivate us, as generally profligate users, to be more efficient in our use of this precious resource.

Here are two easy ways to start. – Replace your conventional toilet (13.2 liters per flush) with a 6 liter per flush toilet. – Replace your existing showerhead with one that uses 5 or 6 litres per minute or less. (Recommended Showerheads: Home Hardware SKU # 3266913, Home Depot – product # 157624)

Not only may these actions reduce your household water consumption by up to several tens of thousands of liters per year, but, by conserving hot water, you’ll enjoy the additional benefits of saving money and reducing your greenhouse gas emissions. Notes: 1. National Academy of Sciences. (2008). Fossil Water in Libya. Retrieved from http://www.drinking- Water-in-Libya.html 2. Guardian Unlimited. (2007). Murder Charge After Row Over Watering Lawn. Retrieved from story/0,,2203891,00.html 3. Public Citizen. (n.d.).Is This What Efficiency Looks Like? Prepaid Water Meters. Retrieved from humanright/meter/ E