Water. It’s been top of mind for many South Africans over the past few years, as we’ve faced drought, extreme temperatures and water restrictions. And the recent, heavy rains in Joburg had us all dancing in the rain, but also swimming in our cars! It can be easy to forget the tough times, when our rivers break their banks, but the lesson is perhaps that water conservation shouldn’t only be top of mind when our dams are empty, but rather through the good and the bad times, the droughts and the floods. With World Water Day coming up next week (22 March), we thought it (water) wise to be reminded how precious water is, and to encourage us all to continue our water saving efforts.
What does it mean?
The phrase ‘water conservation’ doesn’t literally mean ‘saving water’, but rather it’s about having enough clean water when it’s needed. The total amount of water on earth doesn’t change, and is continuously reused or recycled, through Mother Nature’s own filtration system. However, water pollution has made her job rather difficult, affecting the amount of clean, fresh water we have access to. And when humans use more water than they need, there is less water available at a given time, in a given place. So ‘water conservation’ is about using only what you need, and keeping it clean.
Why should we care?
Social geographer, Danny Dorling, brings us this map, where we see annual precipitation across the populated world. Visually, it brings to life the inequality of water distribution, and shows us where water supply is a challenge. We can see that in areas of the Middle East, water is an incredibly scarce resource, and as populations grow, managing water supply is critical.
What we also see, is where water is incredibly abundant, where it can be easy to watch the rain fall from the sky and not worry about the water falling from the tap. One such area is the Amazon Forest in South America. Not only does it have the largest river in the world, but the forest itself is a “massive solar powered sprinkler system” that delivers water across the continent (Mother Nature at her best). Without the Amazon forest, and its self-sustaining water flow, much of South America would be a desert.
So this World Water Day, make the commitment to look after the water on our planet, all the time, and not just during times of drought. Use only what you need, and keep it clean. Always remember the basics, turn off the tap when cleaning your teeth, opt to shower rather than bath, and only water your garden in the early morning or evening. Encourage your family to get involved, and take the time to get your kids on board. Teach them about water (did they know the water they drink is the same water dinosaurs used to drink?) so they can understand why it’s something worth ‘saving’.