Water is a very precious element. We couldn’t live without it and we use it in so many important ways. Water is used in homes to drink, wash things, and dispose of waste; in farming to irrigate crops, in the energy industry to cool nuclear reactors or to be turned into steam to run an electric generating turbine at a coal fired power plant, it is used to mine and wash minerals from coal to gold, it is used to water livestock and on fish farms, it is used by other industries to cool and clean raw materials and finished products.
Statistics from the US government tell us that in 2010 more water was used for irrigation than for anything else. This includes all types of irrigation, from yards to crops, and from all sources. These sources are: surface water such as rivers and lakes as well as self supplied water from ponds on golf courses. Another source is ground water. This is water that is below the surface, like underground lakes and aquifers. In the United States we used about 115,000 million gallons of water per day to irrigate. This accounts for about 70 % of all the water used in the US. The other 30 % of water used is split into the categories of residential, 20%, and industrial, 10 %. Of the 115,000 million gallons of irrigation water used a day about 40 % of it comes from groundwater and 60 % comes from surface water. In 2010 California used about 20 % of all irrigation water consumed. Much of this water was used in the Central Valley of California where fruits, vegetables, and nuts are grown for the entire country. The next four states in order of usage are: Idaho 12%, Colorado and Arkansas 8 % each, and Montana 6 %. Other states used the remaining 46 % of all irrigation water, split between the other 45 states. As you know California is in the midst of a severe drought and has lasted longer than 3 years. This drought has greatly limited the amount of water available for necessary irrigation of these many valued crops. To get the water needed California has been draining underground aquifers and surface reservoir like Lake Mead. A recent NASA study states that these Mega-Droughts could last longer than 10 years. This trend of water shortage in one area of the world is a problem not only for farmers in Central California but for farmers and people around the world.
To limit our water use we can plant native drought resistant plants in our yards. We can reduce our household water use. We can curb the water waste in mining, industry, energy production, and farming. Currently each American uses an average of 150 gallons of water a day. In the United Kingdom the average person uses about 40 gallons per day. In China the number is down to 23 gallons a day. In dry arid countries like Ethiopia each person uses about 4 gallons of water a day. You can see that we need to start cutting back on the water we use and the water we waste both as individuals and as a nation.
To find out more about these issues please click on the article called The 25 Best Ways to Conserve Water. It was compiled by the Green Teens Club. The pictographs, charts, and information they use make this problem very understandable. http://www.portapotty.net/water-conservation/.