Ontario: Understanding Water Scarcity
Understanding Water Scarcity and Practical Steps You Cana Take Today to Be Part of the Solution
Most of us consider water shortages and issues accessing clean, fresh drinking water as problems that impact dry areas of the country, especially California and the southwest. We typically don’t think of them affecting places like Inland Empire Area. But, as we’ve seen in places like South Africa and Flint, MI, water shortages and safety and accessibility concerns are realities that threaten more than just desert cities or developing nations.
As we’ll explore, these issues are not contained to specific regions, but rather present an emerging problem for communities all over the country, and the globe. [perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]These issues present an emerging problem for communities all over the country[/perfectpullquote]
Water Shortage Facts: What Causes Water Scarcity?
Water scarcity refers to any region experiencing prolonged problems either accessing or distributing fresh, potable drinking water. Areas face water shortages for different reasons, so what may be responsible for the Cape Town, South Africa water shortage, may not represent issues facing other communities. However, there are several main factors that contribute to water scarcity universally:
- Climate Change: As global weather patterns shift with a warming climate, rivers, reservoirs, snowpack, and other sources of water communities generally rely on are drying up.
- Population Growth: As cities and towns grow, so do their water needs. In areas that aren’t prepared for this growth, or the amount of growth, it can lead to stressed water infrastructure and issues managing the water supply effectively.
- Infrastructure: Water infrastructure plays a role in how well, and how safely, water gets into our homes and apartments. In many parts of the United States, these systems are aging, or haven’t had sufficient updates and maintenance to ensure they’re working properly and providing the safest possible water quality. In other parts of the world, establishing an efficient, effective water distribution system also presents major challenges for communities.
Water Shortages in the United States
Los Angeles and most of southern California have a long history of drought, and as climate change and population growth intensify, more major cities could face a potential water crisis. Studies predict the most affected regions will be major metropolitan areas in the west and southwest, namely Arizona, Nevada, and Utah, as well as Montana and Colorado, states that already experience seasonal water shortages.
Water Scarcity Effects in Communities
Water scarcity and shortages can cause a variety of serious issues. Since we rely on water for basic hygiene, whenever our access to water is reduced or interrupted, there is a possibility that our health can be impacted. In developing countries and communities that regularly experience water shortages, we know that disease, hunger, and sanitation issues are regularly the result of water scarcity.
Water Shortage Solutions
Solving water scarcity starts at home, with each of us — by being more aware of the water we use every day, and making efforts to reduce how much we waste. Taking shorter showers, fixing faucet leaks or dripping plumbing immediately, halving the time we water our lawns (or replacing grass with drought-resistant plants), only running the dishwasher when it’s full, and reusing shower or bath water for house plants are just a few small steps that can add up to a big impact.
On a broader scale, communities can focus on recycling and reclaiming rain and storm water, improving farming practices and technology for greater water efficiency, and properly maintaining sewage and water main systems so water isn’t wasted unnecessarily. Cities can also follow Los Angeles’ lead by regulating residential and commercial use to incentivize populations to reduce water usage and prevent additional water stress.
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