World Water Day 2018: Current situation, perspectives and good practices

“Water is the driving force of all nature.”

Leonardo da Vinci


On the occasion of World Water Day , which is celebrated on March 22, we wanted to tell you about this essential element for the survival of all known forms of life, of which it is the majority component of our body and, ultimately, the main resource for life.

We make an “X-ray” of the current state of the water. We will analyze the availability of fresh water in the world, tending to scarcity due to its overexploitation and contamination , as well as the great challenges we face in reference to climate change and its impact on water resources .

Availability of fresh water in the world

Let’s start with some facts about the fresh water available on our planet:

  • Although water is the most frequent element on Earth, covering approximately 71% of the surface of its crust, only 2.5% of the total is sweet. The rest is salt water.
  • Surface waters — lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and wetlands — account for only 0.3% of the planet’s fresh water.
  • Between 68% and 75% of the existing water in the world accumulates in glaciers. Although, despite their notable extension, they are not considered water resources due to their inaccessibility.
  • Stored fresh groundwater accounts for 96% of unfrozen fresh water.
  • It is estimated that around 70% of water for human consumption is used for agriculture, according to data from the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). 20% to industry and the remaining 10% to domestic use.


Water and climate change

The main water challenges facing humanity in this century are drought and floods , but also overexploitation and contamination of water resources . The WHO (World Health Organization) warns that the shortage of fresh water already affects 4 out of 10 people in the world. Similarly, the UNISDR (United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction) points out that 90% of current natural disasters are related to water.

There are a number of factors that contribute to both the state and the sustainable and equitable management of fresh water in the world. These include poverty, the impacts of population growth and increased urbanization, the effects of globalization and, finally, the manifestations of climate change.

Climate change – rising temperatures, rising sea levels and effects on ecosystems – has a huge influence on the hydrological cycle. The droughts and floods , exacerbated by it, can lead to loss of resources and overexploitation and pollution of water supplies, a problem that is exacerbated in the developing country.

Good environmental practices

Water management in agriculture

We mentioned it before: agriculture represents 70% of the world’s freshwater extraction. Therefore, from this area, proper management is vital. A series of good practices aimed at saving are recommended, which are:

  • Use drip or micro-sprinkler systems instead of flood irrigation systems. In addition to significant water savings, a uniform water distribution is achieved and surface runoff is avoided.
  • Keep the water pipes and other elements of the irrigation system in good condition. It is advisable to carry out periodic checks to prevent unnecessary water leaks or losses.
  • Do not use uncontrolled dirty water for irrigation that may contain polluting substances and cause blockages in the outlet systems.
  • For animals, use troughs and troughs equipped with water-saving mechanisms.


Saving water at home

water day

Also at home, with very simple actions, we can make more efficient and responsible use of water. The MAPAMA (Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment), in its #EachGotaSuma campaign, shows on its website some tips to save water and reduce our water footprint at home. These are:

  • Take a shower instead of a bath.
  • The washing machine and the dishwasher, always full.
  • Don’t use the toilet as a trash can.
  • While you wait for the water to come out hot to shower, collect the cold water and use it later to water the pots, scrub the floor, etc.
  • Put a bottle in the cistern. With each use, you will save the equivalent of the capacity of that bottle.
  • Wash your car with a bucket and cloth, and not with a hose.
  • Use a container to wash the food, do not do it with the tap running.
  • Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, lathering or shaving.
  • Put water-saving devices , such as aerators, on your faucets.
  • If your toilet leaks or the faucet leaks, fix the leaks.

Water is a tremendously valuable and scarce resource that we all have to protect, and in whose management and saving we can and must, each of us from his own sphere, collaborate.

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