Water is a precious resource often taken for granted in developed countries where water is regularly supplied through a municipal source. Potable water flows into your toilets, is used in massive quantities for industrial cooling and cleaning, pumped from ancient springs into plastic bottles, and continuously wasted by individual and corporate use. Many believe that greater water conservation practices are needed presently and undoubtedly in the future. What is water conservation?

Planting succulents and other plants that need little watering in municipal spaces is one method of water conservation. Area 3 © by Port of San Diego

Water conservation is the act of reducing water usage while maintaining the continued viability of current water sources. The practice of water conservation is motivated by the need for more water in the present or the future. At this time, developing nations are more affected by a shortage of clean water, or access to any water at all. The reasons vary, due to drought, lack of technology, inability to make water potable, or corporate malfeasance such as Coca-Cola draining the regions local aquifers for private use.

Another reason to conserve water is simply a monetary incentive. Water bills in the United States, particularly in the state of California can be extremely high. The cost of keeping a lawn green during the summer can be a costly endeavor. For this reason people are choosing to convert lawns into a succulent and rock garden, where little if any municipal water is needed, or growing plants that need little water. Buying water efficient appliances, taking shorter showers and turning off the water when brushing your teeth are all ways to save water.

The drinking water we have today will take a longer amount of time to pass through our bodies and re-enter the potable water supply again. In a sense, water is supposed to be a renewable resource, since the earth continuously reuses its own water through evaporation. However the problem lies in industrial pollutants, such as crop fertilizers, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and other containments that are so prevalent in today’s “modern” societies. Naturally purifying drinking water will is not as straight-forward as it used to be before industrialization.

While water conservation is the practice of governments, businesses and individuals reducing their water usage, a lot more will be necessary to truly keep the water supply safe for generations to come. The whole of the cycle must be evaluated in all regions and a phasing out of non-biodegradable synthetic chemicals is essential, yet a massive undertaking since so much of commercial agriculture depends on it.

In the home, conserving water can take on other forms, such as harvesting rainwater and reusing the rain for home use and then in the garden through a greywater system.

For related reading, How to Save Water at Home