Friday, October 15, 2010


When I was a kid, we lived in several cities in Indonesia where we had to either boil or filter our water in order to make it safe to drink.

Once, on an adventure with a friend, I tried to jump across an polluted stream/open sewer and failed, falling in face first. When I got back to the states, turns out I had some parasitic worms from the water I swallowed.

Crazier still, that polluted stream was a water source for many people, who would boil the same water that they bathed in, washed clothes in and used occasionally as a toilet.

As much as Indonesia lacked infrastructure in the late 1980s, as a country, the southeast Asian nation was far ahead of many others for running water and irrigation.

Today, one of the biggest crisis facing the world is the lack of access to water for many in the world and the lack of conservation of water for the rest of us. Let's do something about it!

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Water is everywhere, right? Actually, for such a plentiful resource, clean water is surprisingly scarce. Less than 1% of all fresh water is readily accessible for direct human use, representing only 0.007% of all water on earth. Bet you didn’t know that. Check out five more clean water facts and find out what else you didn’t know:

1. Unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation kills more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Unclean drinking water can incubate some pretty scary diseases, like E. coli, salmonella, cholera and hepatitis A. Given that bouquet of bacteria, it’s no surprise that water, or rather lack thereof, causes 42,000 deaths each week.

2. More people have access to a cell phone than to a toilet. Today, 2.5 billion people lack access to toilets. This means that sewage spills into rivers and streams, contaminating drinking water and causing disease.

3. Every day, women and children in Africa walk a combined total of 109 million hours to get water. They do this while carrying cisterns weighing around 40 pounds when filled in order to gather water that, in many cases, is still polluted. Aside from putting a great deal of strain on their bodies, walking such long distances keeps children out of school and women away from other endeavors that can help improve the quality of life in their communities.

4. It takes 6.3 gallons of water to produce just one hamburger. That 6.3 gallons covers everything from watering the wheat for the bun and providing water for the cow to cooking the patty and baking the bun. And that’s just one meal! It would take over 1.8 billion gallons of water to make just one hamburger for every person in the United States.

5. The average American uses 159 gallons of water every day – more than 15 times the average person in the developing world. From showering and washing our hands to watering our lawns and washing our cars, Americans use a lot of water. To put things into perspective, the average five-minute shower will use about 10 gallons of water. Now imagine using just 10 gallons to bathe, wash your clothes, cook your meals and quench your thirst.

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