We have to accept that there isn’t enough water for everyone to do everything they want anymore, if there ever was. We have to accept that all water users, including the environment, deserve a say in how to allocate the limited water we have.
This article originally appeared on Reveal
A decade ago, reports began emerging of a strange occurrence in the Saudi Arabian desert. Ancient desert springs were drying up.
The springs fed the lush oases depicted in the Bible and Quran, and as the water disappeared, these verdant gardens of life were returning to sand.
Killings of environmental activists have risen by 20% in the last year, according to campaign group Global Witness.
Last year saw a spike in killings related to hydropower programs. Fourteen people died defending their land and rivers against dam projects.
The water-intensive nature of almond milk, of course, is no secret. By law, food manufacturers have to name ingredients in order of their prevalence in the product. For Califia and other almond milk brands, it starts like this: “filtered water, almonds.” Given that it takes 1.1 gallons of water to grow a single almond in California, where 80 percent of the world’s almonds are produced, drenching the finished product in yet more water seems insane.
So much water is being pumped out of the ground worldwide that it is contributing to global sea level rise, a phenomenon tied largely to warming temperatures and climate change.
From east to west, ever since the world began, there was water. Plentiful. Clean. Always available.
None of those descriptions apply to water today.
More than 2,000 people died from eating contaminated seafood from the area, with thousands more suffered life-long damage.
It would take years before the Chisso Corporation admitted their role in the poisoning of the environment.
In May 2009, a truck rolled through the Sheikh Yasin camp in Mardan, Pakistan’s “city of hospitality,” where thousands of people had fled following one of the country’s military offensives against the Taliban.
If water was a scarce commodity to this refugee community, ice was a luxury. And it was worth fighting for: A single block could refrigerate whatever perishables the displaced had secured for their families.
Home to around 1,300 Palestinians, the village of Wadi Fukin sits in a fertile valley close to Bethlehem, right along the border with Israel. Driving along the only road that leads into town, I’m taken by the sheer size of the nearby Israeli settlement, Beitar Illit, built just to the East. White stone residential towers housing over 45,000 Israelis rise above on the hills as my car descends into the valley. The buildings slide down towards the village, ending in a towering wall built into the hillside that looms above groves of olive trees.
Since records for Brazil’s south-eastern region began 84 years ago, we have never seen such a delicate and worrying situation
Scientists keeping tabs on the eastward voyage of radioactive byproducts from the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power-station disaster in Japan suggest that radioactivity from the byproducts should peak off the US and Canadian coasts by the end of next year.
Although Detroit sits next to one-fifth of the world’s freshwater supply, earlier this year the city decided to cut the water off from its residents who cannot not afford to pay for it.
Kids in New York City public schools drank water nearly three times more often after dispensers of cool, fresh tap water were conveniently placed near their lunch lines.
Built by American artist Robert Smithson over six days during a drought in 1970, ‘Spiral Jetty’, a 1,500 foot long (460 meter) and 15 feet wide (4.6 meter) counterclockwise coil made of basalt rock and earth, juts from the shore into the pinkish colored waters of Utah’s Great Salt Lake.
A fire in Male’s desalination plant left roughly 130,000 residents without water in the capital of the Maldives.
Over the past decade desalinated water replaced stinky and salty well water and harvested rainwater so when Male Water & Sewage Company was suddenly unable to produce and distribute drinking water neighboring countries had to deliver hundreds of tons of bottled water emergency aid to ease the crisis.
Ashokan is one of the 19 reservoirs that supply 1 billion gallons of fresh water to the City of NewYork every day.
Water is an essential resource for any business. The potential for water-related problems to damage brand value or limit corporate growth is increasingly understood.
Access to safe and affordable water is out of reach for way too many people in the United States.
Imagine that – even for a day – you lose the running water in your home to drink, cook, bathe and flush your toilet. In Detroit it is the everyday reality of thousands of families whose water has been shut off after falling behind in paying their bills.
We do not know how much our current problem derives from the build-up of heat-trapping gasses, but we can take this drought as a stark warning of things to come.
This intersection of poverty and water access brings to mind the “food desert” (an area underserved by grocery stores). Food deserts have created a public health paradox: without healthy food, the poor are more likely to be obese, relying on corner shops stocked with junk food. The difference is that when it comes to water, there is no alternative – fast food and sugary cereal might be the food desert substitute to fresh vegetables and whole grains, but there is no substitute for water.