Russell and Duenes

Water: Our Thirsty World

with 2 comments

National Geographic dedicated their entire April, 2010 issue to the topic of water. Just browsing through it is an amazing experience. You realize at once how precious water is, and what a grace it is that God provides it. You also realize how incredibly rich even the poorest person in the United States is compared to much of the rest of the world. We don’t give a second thought to the fact that clean water runs through our taps and that we have warm, clean water coming into our showers each day. We flush our toilets without considering what an unbelievable thing it is that our waste is just whisked away. Here are some tidbits from the issue.

We live on a planet covered by water, but more than 97 percent is salty, and nearly 2 percent is locked up in snow and ice. That leaves less than one percent to grow our crops, cool our power plants, and supply drinking and bathing water for households.

Americans use about 100 gallons of water at home each day. Millions of the poorest subsist on fewer than five gallons. 46 percent of people on earth do not have water piped to their homes. Women in developing countries walk an average of 3.7 miles to get water.

I remember my trip to Aktau, Kazakhstan in 1998 when I lived with a family on the fifth floor of their apartment building. Water never reached their floor due to the terrible Soviet plumbing system, so that meant that they had no flushing toilets and no running showers. In other to get their daily water, they had to wait for the city to first turn the water on (sometimes it was turned off for the whole city), and then they had to take any and all large containers down 5 flights of stairs to the central area of their apartment complex and wait in line with all the others who lived on top floors to fill the containers up with iced-tea colored water that came out of a central spigot. Then they had to lug those water-filled containers back up the stairs. It took several trips in order to fill their bathtub with sufficient water. They never complained.

One out of eight people lacks access to clean water. Washing hands can reduce diarrheal disease by 45 percent.

The weight of China’s Three Gorges Reservoir will tilt the earth’s axis by nearly an inch. The longest water tunnel, supplying New York City, is 85 miles and leaks up to 35 million gallons a day.

As developments such as Discovery Bay increase in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, so does the flood hazard. More than a million people now live behind delta levees. More Americans fish than play golf or tennis. In Florida, 3,000 gallons are used to water the grass for each golf game played. U.S. swimming pools lose 150 billion gallons to evaporation every year.

Every time I fly into Phoenix or Las Vegas, I marvel at the number of swimming pools and at the amount of water it must take to keep up all the golf courses and parks. The section on the water issues in California was particularly interesting for me. Having grown up in Los Angeles, I always knew that our water came from elsewhere, but to see the infrastructure that it takes and the way it has impacted the environment elsewhere is stunning. It beggars the imagination that well over 10 million people can live in a desert like Los Angeles.



Written by Michael Duenes

July 28, 2010 at 10:23 am

Posted in Duenes, Reflections

2 Responses

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  1. This makes me want to read Dune again.

    Andy M.

    July 28, 2010 at 1:37 pm

  2. Its crazy to think how blessed we are as Americans. Most of us see living without running for a day as barbaric. This is something we don’t think of that we should. Or maybe its one of those things we try to block out…

    Christian Randall

    July 28, 2010 at 11:14 pm

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