11 December 2013
Lack of water sustainability has become an immense problem for the world. Along with
global warming, water will be the hottest environmental topic in the future due to the fact that it
is the basis of all life forms. Water will become an exclusive and expensive commodity due to
its increasing scarcity. The causes of this scarcity include water depletion, water pollution,
eutrophication, and ocean acidification. Humans must start to address these issues if they want
to continue living on a habitable planet because if they do not, there will not be enough water to
sustain life on Earth.
The issue with increasing water use is that it is occurring both on an individual and an
industrial level. People have become much more wasteful with their individual water use. They
are usually uneducated about the inner workings of water, which leads them to be oblivious.
One example of this ignorance can be found in home car washes. When people wash their cars
in their driveways, they use around 80-140 gallons of water as opposed to 30-45 gallons at an
actual car wash (Hadhazy). Although this does not seem like an immense amount of water, it
builds up over time. Another personal use of water that has greatly affected water depletion is
the swimming pool. Pools lose around 1000 gallons of water to evaporation monthly (Hadhazy).
This is a large amount of water that is simply wasted. Water is also lost to leaks in swimming
pools. Personal use of water has an influential impact on water depletion because even though
each action alone does not hurt our water source significantly, numerous individuals partake in
these wasteful methods. On the industrial level, water is also wasted in significant amounts. 2
Industries use four percent of the world’s accessible water and then leave it contaminated with
metals, solvents, toxic sludge, and other harmful chemicals (Industrial). Between water use and
contamination, industries contribute greatly to the depletion of accessible water.
Agriculture has also significantly impacted water depletion through the cultivation of
thirsty crops, wasteful field applications, and the use of agrichemicals. This results in the wasting
of 42 percent of the world’s accessible water (Thirsty). Corn, cotton, rice, sugarcane, and wheat
are all considered to be thirsty crops and they account for 58 percent of all agriculture (Thirsty).
The reason they represent the majority of farmed plants is because they are some of the main
sources of ethanol. The large amount of thirsty crop agriculture results in aquifers being drained
at a faster rate. In fact, only one-third of the Ogallala aquifer remains (Groundwater). Aquifers
are filled through rainfall seepage. Recently, the rate of water extraction has become greater than
the rate of rainfall seepage, which has resulted in water depletion (Rainfall).
In the process of farming, wasteful field applications are used. These include leaky
irrigation systems and excessive irrigation. Leaks in the systems allow water to escape, which
simply wastes water. Excessive irrigation has a few negative outcomes, including an increase in