Nearly three quarters of the Earth’s surface is covered in water. Most of this is oceans, which contain enough water to fill sixty million trillion jerry cans. That’s about 10 billion jerry cans for every person in the world
Besides the oceans, water is also found in lakes and rivers, ice caps and even underground stored in rocks called aquifers. When we look up to the skies there’s more water there too, tiny droplets suspended in the atmosphere forming the clouds.
If you study the water cycle you will understand how the three states of water move repeatedly between land, air and sea to shape life on earth.
You may even discover fossil water, which is sealed water millions of years old. Can you imagine drinking that?
With so much water around us, why then is there a global water shortage?
The answer is simple and one you probably know. Yes, there is plenty of salty seawater but very little fresh water exists on our planet. In fact, less than 1 percent of all water is readily available drinking water.
To make matters worse, population growth, pollution and climate change are combining to further threaten our life-giving resource.
Did you know that in sub-Saharan Africa, a third of all people have no access to safe drinking water? Right here in Cape Town we are also experiencing water supply issues. It is predicted that by 2020 Cape Town will need more water than the City services can provide. This year our local government put level 2 water restrictions in place to make people use water more sparingly.
Living in a city we take water for granted – we simply open a tap and fresh water appears, piped to us through complex and expensive hydro schemes we largely ignore.
We don’t stop to think about how fresh water gets to our homes or where our dirty water goes and what impact this has on the environment.
Yet millions of people around the world spend hours each day with a jerry can – usually a bright yellow plastic container of around 20 litres – strapped securely on their backs, held tightly to their hips or balanced on top of their heads. The jerry can is part of their everyday lives. It accompanies them on long walks to a water source, sometimes at least a three-hour ordeal. It is the keeper of a precious resource they must make the most of with many families surviving on just one jerry can each day.
While the jerry can is a symbol of the global water crisis, it is also a symbol of hope to change the way we think about water.
All of us must become part of the change from “water-wasteful” to “water-sensitive”.
If we don’t confront water conservation as a way of life, we will face serious economic and social problems such as high costs and widespread suffering. As in the past, wars may again be fought over water.
Getting people to change their water-wasteful habits is not as difficult as it may seem. When some of us take the lead and set the example others will notice, reconsider their ways and hopefully follow.
Are you willing to be the water conservation champion for your community? Start today by entering a team or two from your school into the EnviroQuiz/Art competitions.
The 2016 Thrive EnviroQuiz/ Art competition will take place on Friday September 9 at Kronendal Primary School. All schools in the Cape Peninsula are invited to enter a team of four pupils.
Entry is free and teams can apply online by visiting www.thrive.org.za or by sending an email request to enviro firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday May 23.
Make sure you build your water knowledge by reading the final four EnviroQuiz articles to be published in the Sentinel News during August and Septem- ber.
* Study material for the EnviroQuiz can be found in five Sentinel News articles and on the Thrive website, www.thrive.org.za, where the brief for the EnviroArt competition can also be found. Call Zikhona 062 627 2719 for more information.