In the Journals: Water

The water mini theme roundup.

A woman in El Fasher, North Darfur, uses a Water Roller ---  the device frees women and children from having to spend a large portion of every day dedicated to collecting water for their households. Image Credit: UN Photo/Albert Gonzalez Farran

A woman in El Fasher, North Darfur, uses a Water Roller — the device frees women and children from having to spend a large portion of every day dedicated to collecting water for their households. Image Credit: UN Photo/Albert Gonzalez Farran

Water was the topic of our first “mini theme” in March, a new little feature meant to complement our larger quarterly themes. This month we introduce a new feature, a blog called “In the Journals,” to highlight recent reports and articles that address subjects related to our mini themes. March was chosen for water namely because March 22 was World Water Day, an event organized by the United Nations (UN).

Water Shortfall: The Associated Press carried news on the UN World Water Development Report warning about a 40 percent water shortfall by 2030. This is a problem of too many people, a finite resource, and the need for better management. As the world population grows to an expected 9 billion by 2050, more groundwater will be needed for things like drinking, along with farming and industry. But many underground water reserves are already running low, and climate change may be altering the historic patterns of rain that many rely on.

Water for Women: In more encouraging news, a Water for Women report released in conjunction with World Water Day says global productivity would improve if more of the world’s poor had better access to water. A case in point: Women in Asia and Africa, on average, walk 3.7 miles per day to get water for their families, as noted by Forbes. The time that women and girls use to collect water – about 200 million hours per day – could be better spent on things like education. School enrollment for girls improves by 15 percent when clean water and working toilets are nearby and accessible.

Heroes: World Water Day also brought out stories of people like Ross Thurston, a Canadian chemist in Calgary, Alberta. Thurston’s Livestock Water Recycling system recycles clean water from livestock manure. It’s the only such system on the market that can recapture water with zero waste, according to The Royal Canadian Geographic Society.

Thurston recently won the 3M Environmental Innovation Award for his invention. Water from manure is important, if perhaps a little nasty sounding, because agriculture accounts for 70 percent of the world’s water consumption. Being able to use water sustainably and keep it clean is becoming more important every day.

Rajendra Singh. Image Credit: Tarun Bharat Sangh 

Rajendra Singh. Image Credit: Tarun Bharat Sangh

Going Social: But science and technology alone won’t solve the Earth’s water woes. In March, Rajendra Singh of India was named the 2015 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate for his life’s work: “building social capacity to solve local water problems through participatory action, empowerment of women, linking indigenous know-how with modern scientific and technical approaches.”

Singh’s methods are modern twists on old Indian ways of collecting and storing rainwater. They call him “the water man of India.”

Up Next: If you have recommended items for the next “In the Journals,” on Earth Day for April (Earth Month?), send it to jkart@earthzine.org. Or message the author on Twitter @jeffkart.

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