Our Wells are Running Dry

It was in my fourth grade science class that I remember learning about water conservation for the first time. In the text book, there was a picture  of a boy standing in front of a bathroom sink, brushing his teeth. Beside the picture, was a lesson about the need to conserve the earth’s most important chemical compound, water – because all living things will die without it.

The reason for the insert of the boy brushing his teeth was to teach kids to turn the faucet off while they brush. Maybe that message didn’t stick with the other kids in my class, but it stuck with me. And today, at 39 years old, I still shut the water off while I brush my teeth.

It’s become second-nature to me now. If I’m in the bathroom while someone is brushing their teeth and the water’s running, I’ll rush to turn the faucet off.

“Doesn’t that noise drive you crazy?” I ask.

“What noise?” Is the response I usually get, with a weird look.

Oh, right. People who are used to brushing their teeth while the faucet is on probably don’t even hear the water running anymore, while to someone like me, who is used to silence while she brushes her teeth, a running faucet sounds like Niagara Falls.

At a young age, I learned to turn the water off when I wasn’t using it. And now, it seems, it may be time you learn to do the same because our water is running out.

The Chicago Sun-Times featured an article about the global crisis of vanishing groundwater. The three-page feature scared me more than any Stephen King novel ever had because this story was much too real.

The article centered on a four-generation farm family in the plains of Southwestern Kansas, who’d been farming in that region since 1902. But now, the family farm may not survive another generation because “the groundwater they depend on is disappearing.”

The High Plains Aquifer, which lies underneath eight states, is the lifeline of “one of the world’s most productive farming economies.” An aquifer is an underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock…from which groundwater can be extracted using a water well. (wikipedia)

These wells are going dry.

“Much more water is pumped from the ground that can be naturally replenished. Groundwater levels are plummeting.”

A study was conducted on 32,000 wells in a span of two decades and it “found water levels falling in nearly two-thirds of those wells.”

Across the nation, water levels have declined 64 percent.

Thirteen counties in five states have water levels averaging declines of more than 40 feet since 1995. In one of the country’s largest depletion zones, “the average water levels in more than 4,000 wells are 13.2 feet lower today than they were in 1995.”

Two-thirds of the nation’s fresh groundwater is used for agriculture. According to Huffpost, to produce just one pound of beef requires about 1,847 gallons of water, where a pound of chickpeas uses about 500 gallons. It’s no wonder why the governor of the drought-stricken state of California responded to the lack of water in his state, by saying, “If you ask me, I think you should be eating veggie burgers.”

High meat consumption is using up a lot of our drinking water.

Just like climate change, “groundwater depletion has become another human-made crisis that could bring devastating consequences.”

In just five years, the amount of water pumped from the four-generation farm family’s wells fell 30 percent – in just five years.

During World War I, American soldiers and their allies were facing starvation because farms were destroyed and turned into battlefields. Food was scarce. Selected by President Woodrow Wilson, future President Herbert Hoover formed a program that asked Americans for their patriotic support in reducing their consumption of wheat, meat, sugar, and fats. There were slogans like, “Food will win the war,” that encouraged people not to waste food, and to eat less meat so more could be sent to hungry soldiers protecting our freedom.

According to History.com, as a result of the conservation efforts, “food shipments to Europe were doubled within a year, while consumption in America was reduced 15 percent.”

This country came together once before to save food for our soldiers, we can come together again, but this time, to save water for each other and for our planet.

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Below are a couple of links with easy tips on how you can conserve water every day.

http://www.bewaterwise.com/tips01.html

http://eartheasy.com/live_water_saving.htm

http://www.home-water-works.org/water-conservation-tips

*I don’t own the picture above. I believe it is public domain, but if it is subject to copyright, I will take it down.

*Also, all the quotes that weren’t cited directly were taken from the Chicago Sun-Times article noted in my blog.

How Much Do You Like Drinking Clean Water?

I have read that giving up meat just one day a week carries the same beneficial effect on the environment as not driving your car for one month. One month! Such an easy way to decrease one’s carbon footprint on our planet!

When I made the conscious decision to give up meat, I had no idea the detrimental impact raising livestock had on the environment. I stopped eating meat because I wanted to partake in a more compassionate diet, to assure that no living-being had to die just so I could eat.

But now, I’m learning that I may be doing more than just sparing the lives of precious animals from a cruelly-inhumane death, I may also have a hand in helping to save the environment. The meat industry is wreaking havoc on our water supply (ask Californians how fun it is being strapped for water). One-third of the world’s fresh water supply is used for the production of livestock.* It takes twenty-four hundred gallons of water to produce just one pound of beef,** and the average American eats around 270 lbs of meat a year.*

Also, a typical US farm produces over 500 million tons of manure every year.** Runoffs of animals waste is the leading cause of pollution to our lakes and rivers.**

It isn’t surprising that when answering questions about water-saving advice over California’s historic drought, the State’s Governor, Jerry Brown, answered, “If you ask me, I think we should be eating veggie burgers.”

Statistics are showing that the Governor may be on to something.

How hard is it to give up meat for one day? I don’t know, how much do you like drinking clean water?

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Please Note: Raising animals for dairy consumption also uses a lot of natural resources. I am not a vegan, but am gradually reducing my dairy intake. I haven’t bought cow’s milk in over three years (almond milk rocks!). The point of this blog is to show that it doesn’t take much to make a big difference if everyone does a little something. This blog is NOT meant  to put anyone down for what they eat.

But, if you can make a little change, please do it, because we are all in this together. We all need a healthy Earth. Except for the Aliens. You have your own planet. Stay there.

*Science.time.com

**Peta

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net