If you’re on Facebook, you and your friends may have posted notes with 25 facts about themselves. We wanted to share with you 25 things we think are really interesting about water.
1. The world is currently in a water crisis. One out of six people worldwide doesn’t have access to clean water. Every year, 2 million people die of diseases caused by a lack of clean water.
2. Regions throughout the world are experiencing water shortages, due to both droughts and overuse of water. Rivers all over the world, including the Columbia River, now dry up before reaching their ends.
3. Companies like Nestle are taking communities’ water for bottling despite public opposition, in the US and abroad.
4. Bottled water plants don’t provide good jobs.
5. Water advocacy does.
6. The international financial institutions (World Bank and IMF) have essentially forced many countries to sell their public water utilities to big water corporations.
7. Communities all over the world have organized, and in some cases shed blood, to regain control of their water resources.
8. Bottled water isn’t safer than tap water. Last year, Environmental Working Group did a study that tested popular brands of bottled water for contamination. They found 38 different harmful chemicals, including painkillers, fertilizer and arsenic, in 10 brands of bottled water.
9. The average American’s indoor water use is about 69 gallons of water per day.
10. According to the Washington Post in 2005, “Just one flush of a toilet in the West uses more water than most Africans have to perform an entire day’s washing, cleaning, cooking and drinking.”
11. Worldwide, big investors like T. Boone Pickens are buying up water rights like they have bought up oil. Some have predicted that the next wars will be over water.
12. You can carbonate your own water with a machine like this if you like it fizzy.
13. Plastic bottles can leach chemicals into your water. Lined aluminum or stainless steel bottles are the safest alternative.
14. Industry is pushing technology that makes ocean water into drinking water as a solution to shortages. But really, it’s a bad idea.
15. Conservation can get us farther. Check out a whole bunch of conservation tips here.
16. In the US, people who get their water from a privately owned utility pay up to 80 percent more than those who get it from a public utility. Private sewer service can cost twice as much as public.
17. We may be able to conserve water by investing in renewable energy sources. According to Harper’s magazine in December 2008, half of all freshwater drawn from U.S. sources each year is used to cool power plants.
18. In Bolivia, nearly one out of every ten children dies before the age of five. Most of those deaths are related to illnesses that come from a lack of clean drinking water. This statistic and others are discussed in the movie FLOW.
19. Every day, an estimated seven billion gallons of clean drinking water leak out of pipes in the US.
20. In 1978, the feds paid for 78 percent of water infrastructure in the US. As of 2008, it was 3%. Many communities don’t have the money to make up the difference. You can meet with your legislator to tell them you support the creation of a dedicated source of funding for water infrastructure.
21. Up to 40 percent of bottled water is actually just municipal water that’s been packaged.
22. There’s a growing movement of college campuses and restaurants who have decided not to sell bottled water. You can join the movement with your school or business.
23. Most funky taste in water can be removed with a filter, such as a Brita. Chlorine taste will go away if you leave the water in an open pitcher overnight.
24. In 2003, the city of Johannesburg, South Africa started to install prepaid water meters, preventing the very poorest from accessing clean water. In 2008, the Johannesburg High Court declared this unconstitutional. This was a victory for the people, but the decision is being appealed, and the struggle continues.
25. The movement needs you. This isn’t just for activists–it’s for anyone whose body is made up of over 70 percent water.
Food & Water Watch is an organization dedicated to the belief that the public should be able to count on our government to oversee and protect the quality and safety of food and water. For more information, go to www.foodandwaterwatch.org.
By Erica Schuetz, Food and Water Watch