Parts one and two were posted yesterday
Conserving the Available Water Supply
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and UN-Water
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Solutions such as drip irrigation, farm canals, and terrace agriculture have been shown to produce more food for less water, but are often at odds with increased mechanization and corporations of farms. Massive monoculture crops – huge fields of genetically identical plants that are easily sprayed with chemicals and irrigation water and harvested by machine – has been the trend in the United States and increasingly the world. Such farming can be water intensive and result in pollution devastating to rivers and streams near farms.
Farmers in the U.S. and elsewhere are making changes but much more needs to be done.
Different Foods Have Different Water Footprints
Changing what we eat can make a huge difference in global water consumption. Estimates vary, but there’s no question that, pound for pound, growing meat takes more water than growing vegetables, grains, or legumes.
As global affluence rises, so does demand for western, meat-heavy diets. Heading off a global water crisis will most likely involve eating lower on the food chain. For information on how to start reducing your own meat consumption (perhaps even going vegetarian), check out the Meatless Monday campaign.
Industries, Governments, and Institutions Can Conserve Water Too
At 22% of world water use, industry could make a huge impact on global conservation. The same water-saving techniques used by households can yield big savings on an industrial scale. Optimizing industrial processes can save even more water. And for companies, saving water means saving money.
For example, in the late 1980′s, “Gangi Brothers Packing Company, a tomato processing and canning plant in Santa Clara, Calif., implemented several successful water conservation practices at its cannery, including the monitoring of operations to control water use and to identify areas where water could be saved.” The company cut their water use by approximately 61% and saved themselves nearly $40,500 per year (1990 dollars).
In 2009, a 9-year-old’s science experiment convinced the city of Reno, Nevada, to turn the water pressure down in all its public bathrooms. Mason Perez showed science fair judges and city officials that hands got just as clean with plumbing valves closed half-way. The innovation cost Reno only the time required to reset the valves and saved taxpayers 20% on the city’s water bill.