Water We Thinking?

Sorry for the bad pun – my excuse is that today is World Water Day!

Consider all the ways you used water today. If you live in North America, by now  you will have probably flushed a toilet a few times, had a shower, run a tap, and drunk one or more glasses of it.  In my part of the world, I’ve walked on a frozen form of water, snow, as I brought my garbage to the road, and when I go to town later on I might walk on the frozen lake.

It’s easy for those of us who just need to turn on a tap to get water to take it for granted, yet water is an amazing substance.  It is the only substance on earth that is found naturally in three different forms – liquid, gas (water vapour), and solid (ice and snow).  All living things depend on water to support life.  And yet, almost all of the water on earth is not useable because it’s salty ocean water.

Earth has been called the “blue planet” because so much of it is covered with water.  But almost all of the water on this “blue planet” isn’t drinkable because it’s too salty.  To give you an idea of how much water on earth there is that humans and other living beings can use, try this demo at home.  Fill up a one liter container with water.  Then, take 30 milliliters (about 2 tablespoons) out of that one liter container and put it in a small bowl.  This represents how much fresh water there is on earth.  Pour salt into the water left in the one liter container – this is now like most of the water on earth, too salty for humans to use.  Next, take a teaspoon out of the bowl of “fresh water” and place it in another small container.  That teaspoon represents the amount of the world’s fresh water that is not frozen – about 0.6% of the total water on earth.  But not even all of this water is on the surface – take an eyedropper, and take out one drop of water from the teaspoon.  This one drop represents the clean, fresh water on earth that is not polluted, frozen, or underground!

As you can see, if all beings depend on water for life, and only a very small percentage of water on earth is available to use, then it is important that the precious “drop” of water is used wisely so all 6.6 billion people on earth, as well as all the other living creatures, have water to drink and use!

My family and I are lucky to live on a lake in northern Ontario, and our community is surrounded by  lots of lakes and rivers.  Yet, in northern Canada there are over 100 First Nations communities that lack access to clean potable water and adequate sanitation.  And in Alberta, the tar sands are consuming fresh water from the Athabasca River at an alarming rate;  it takes 3 – 5 barrels of fresh water to produce one barrel of tar sands oil. The toxic tailing ponds that result are so large they can be seen from outer space, and First Nation communities downstream of tar sands operation have been experiencing unprecedented rates of bile and colon cancer, lupus and other diseased that they believe are attributable to tar sands.  What are we thinking when we use up this precious resource like there’s no tomorrow?


More links:

We All Live On The Water

Water Matters: Speak Up For Clean Water and Air In Alberta’s Oil Sands Region

Boiling Point: Profiles 6 Canadian First Nation Communities facing a water crisis.

0 thoughts on “Water We Thinking?”

  1. If it’s yellow let it mellow. If it’s brown flush it down!

    Since today’s about water, here’s an anecdote from decades ago.

    I and a few friends were enjoying a jolly Friday evening of conversation and beer at a girlfriend’s home. Her mother related a story to us about how between trains she had mistakenly entered the men’s bathroom at the train station and on emerging asked her husband why they had such strange tiny little bathtubs mounted on the wall. We all broke up, of course.

    Wicked me – about an hour later I excused myself to rid myself of some of the residual from the beer and when I came out I looked at her with a confused expression on my face and triggered a few nasal beer snorts when I asked why they had put their urinal horizontal on the bathroom floor. 🙂

  2. As I note on my site (with links to the study):

    A first of its kind report by the Pew Environment Group reveals that Canada’s boreal, the world’s largest intact forest and on-land carbon storehouse, contains more unfrozen freshwater than any other ecosystem. As United Nations’ International Year of the Forests and World Water Day coincide, world leaders are grappling with water scarcity and pollution–and scientists are calling boreal protection a top global priority.

    Read more -> Pew Report: Canada’s Boreal Forest Houses World’s Largest Water Source

  3. LOL – Thanks for sharing a great story for World Water Day, Alan.

    And great article on the Pew report. Living where I do, I have a vested interest in anything that points out the importance of the boreal forest, and preserving it as much as possible.

    Not I think anybody in Ottawa is paying much attention to this issue right now!


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