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Water Conservation - Apr 21, 2014

By: Beth Ledvina, Sustainability Intern

While it is true water covers most of the planet, freshwater is still substantially undervalued. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) only 3% of the world’s water is freshwater and two-thirds of that freshwater is frozen in glaciers or otherwise unavailable for use. Fresh water is used for more than just drinking; it is also used for bathing, crop irrigation, manufacturing, and feeding the animals and plants we consume. The protection and sustainable use of freshwater is vital to our continued lifestyle. Currently 40% of the entire population of the planet has little or no access to clean water. This forces people to rely on unsafe sources of drinking water and increases the risk of contamination. For more about water scarcity WHO has a fact sheet of 10 facts about the global water shortage

Luckily there are many things that can be done by each person to reduce his or her impact. This website lists 111 ways to save water. A few easy ways to save water include: reusing towels at hotels, using ice cubes that get dropped on the ground for watering house plants, and watering your lawn in the early morning or late in the day to reduce evaporation, saving both water and money. Plastic water bottles are a large portion of American impact on water usage. Annually, Americans consume 8.6 billion gallons of bottled water and when you consider that it takes three times the amount of water to produce the bottle as it does to fill it, that adds up to a lot of water. If you are interested in learning more about bottled water view this infographic.

Groundwater contamination is another concern in terms of water usage. Forty-four percent of the American population depends on groundwater for its drinking supply. Additionally, contaminated groundwater can harm the environment including the ecosystems that depend on groundwater. Great information on ground water protection and what you can do is available from the National Groundwater Association. A few tips from the NWGA for reducing you groundwater contamination risk include: properly store hazardous household substances in secure containers, do not put hazardous household wastes down the drain or in the toilet and dispose hazardous wastes at an appropriate waste disposal facility or drop-off. All of this information and more is available at http://www.ngwa.org/Events-Education/awareness/Pages/stewardship.aspx .

Be sure to read next week's blog to find out what GBBG has been doing to reduce water usage!

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