A central theme of sustainability is avoiding waste of resources in order to create a better foundation for the future. I thought I’d share some ways SPU is stepping up its game and asking students to engage on the issue of water. If you live on campus, you may have noticed some new signage in your bathroom bringing attention water conservation and giving students a few practical ways to do so. In a previous post, I described this summer’s water shortage and the subsequent voluntary reduction implemented by Seattle, Everett, and Tacoma. In addition to the operational changes we made this summer to reduce campus water consumption, we are asking students to help reduce water use this fall.
There are many benefits to saving water:
- Saving water just means using less so that it can be used by others in your area. When water is used it must go through a treatment or cleaning process before it can be used again. The typical treatment for our drinking water in the United States is a five step process that is regulated on a federal level; it uses time, energy and financial resources to clean our water. So limiting the need for that redundant process is beneficial to everyone, especially if you live in a water scare region or in times of drought.
- Conserving water isn’t just based on communal concern, but can also be based on finances; using less means paying for less. This is also key when the cost of water varies from place to place and certain people are controlling how much you must pay for clean water (be on the look-out for a future a post on the privatization of water!). As fresh water is a limited resource to be used by people, we have to think about how that 1% of the Earth’s water is shared among the approximately 3 billion people.
An update on Seattle and the surrounding areas was published just last week. While it seems that collectively there were great efforts in reduction, we aren’t in the clear just yet. Fall rains have yet to hit in full force refilling our reservoirs. If you don’t live in the Seattle area, take a look at your local watershed and see if seasonal rains have improved your reserves or if you need to do some conserving yourself.
Lastly, I want to highlight some wonderful groups of people that help others have access to clean water the way we do in the US. If you find that your conservation efforts result in some extra cash, consider donating funds to a project that could benefit people beyond your watershed (if you’re into that sort of thing). If you’re looking for one stop shopping, check out a few articles that have lists of water organizations, or you can check them out individually. These are just a small handful of people working to beat the water crisis, feel free to comment about any organizations you really like and find out more about the 780 million people (2013, UNESCO) that don’t have access to clean water.