In Ireland they say it is everywhere, but try going without it for a day. As we prepare for the introduction of water charges next year the European Commission has launched a campaign to highlight just how precious the commodity is.
For those with an eye to costs the campaign provides some money-saving tips, while underlining issues such as water pollution and indirect water consumption.
The initiative – known as Generation Awake – has a website devoted to the problems of water scarcity, which explains the basic concepts and proposed concrete measures that can be taken to reduce the waste of water resources.
Why is water important?
Without water, we could not exist. Water is essential for life – not just human life, but all life forms on Earth. As humans we use water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, waste disposal, transportation, energy production and maintenance of ecosystems. Besides the direct use of water, however, we need it to fertilize the soil and grow crops which can produce food to live. Furthermore, water is vital for the preservation of nature: flora, fauna and ecosystems depend on water.
What is water scarcity and water pollution, and why they are important?
The amount of water in the world is sufficient to satisfy all of these needs. In Europe, for example, every EU citizen has to 8,800 liters of water per day (3,200 m³ / year), of which, however, only consume 1,800 liters (660 cubic meters). The problem is that this water is distributed unevenly, which means that while some regions, such as western Norway have access to plenty of water, others, such as South and Central Spain shortages. Water scarcity is usually defined as a situation where the available water in the country or region is below 2700 liters per person per day (or 1,000 cubic meters / year). Many regions in the world, however, experienced a much greater scarcity by living with less than 1,400 liters per person per day.
Water pollution is also a serious problem in many parts of the world. One of the biggest problems with contamination of water, which have to deal with people is to nitrogen and phosphorus, as a result of excessive use of chemical fertilizers. This affects groundwater quality and leads to eutrophication of freshwater and marine ecosystems. Pesticides have also contributed to the pollution of water, and micropollutants such as pharmaceutical substances and nanomaterials. Furthermore, the hydro-morphological changes occurring in rivers, lakes and coastlines as a result of the construction of facilities such as dams, weirs and embankments could also negatively impact on the aquatic ecosystem.
What does the term “footprint”?
Water footprint of a product is the total volume of fresh water that is used in its manufacture and use. It is calculated by adding all the amounts of water, directly and indirectly, have been used in the product lifecycle. For example, when you buy a bag of potatoes local store directly consumed water is water used for processing, washing and boiling the potatoes. Indirect water consumption is one that has been used throughout the supply chain, primarily for the production of potatoes. Indirect consumption of water is very important, as it takes into account the hidden or “virtual” water, which is necessary for the production of goods and services. Usually indirect consumption of water is much greater than the direct use of water, because it includes vodoemki processes such as watering crops.
What is my water footprint?
Individual water footprint is the sum of the water footprints of all goods and services we consume. According to scientists from the University of Twente in the Netherlands, the average global footprint of member from 1996 to 2005 was 3800 l / day (1385 cubic meters / year)
Why you should think about your water footprint and how can I reduce it?
Our water footprint is the relationship between the water we use in their daily lives and problems of water scarcity and soil contamination that exist in other parts of the world. Of course, it is also turning off the tap while brushing our teeth and reduce the time you spend in the shower, but the direct consumption of water constitutes a very small percentage (about 4%) of our total water footprint. Our indirect footprint shows not only the vast amount of water we use, but it can have a direct impact on the lives of people in other parts of the world, especially if the products they buy have been produced with water taken from the river basin with water shortages .
We can make a number of simple things to reduce our indirect water consumption. For example, we wasting less food, eat less meat or buy less shirts or shoes each year. Or buy more second-hand products instead of new ones to use more recycled paper, to buy local, seasonal food and reduce the consumption of high sugar content.
By conducting more research and the availability of better information should be able to make even more informed choice about the products they buy. For example, we can choose to consume the same amount of product, knowing that it comes from a region where there is less water shortage. This kind of information is not currently easily accessible, so that we as consumers depend on to make further studies to learn more about the impact of the products we buy on water resources.
More about Generation Awake you can learn and Facebook campaign page.