Nannette Ricaforte explores the question, “Do we have the resources to end the global water crisis?”
I have a close friend who loves me enough to hurt me with the truth. He admonished me for being a water snob after I refused to drink the glass of tap water he handed with my medicine. My deep-seated aversion to the metallic taste of tap water kept me writhing in pain as I stubbornly refused to drink it with my pain pill.
A lecture of monumental proportions ensued because of my irrational distaste for tap water. Was I aware of the current global water crisis? Have I read the study on how bottled water is no safer than tap water? Did I know that the African drought was connected to the pollution emitted in America and Europe?
The answer to each question was a resounding no. I was ignorant of the subject and felt compelled to research the validity of his information.
In 2001, Switzerland-based World Wildlife Fund International released a report claiming, “Bottled water may be no safer or healthier than tap water, while selling for up to 1,000 times the price.” The environmental group blamed the discrepancy on the lack of standards “regulating tap water in Europe and the United States than those applied to the bottled water industry.”
Stephen Kay, spokesperson for the International Bottled Water Association, refutes these claims stating the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates bottled water in the United States as a packaged food product. “It meets specific standards of quality and safety from the source all the way through the finished product.”
While America and Europe were able to partake in the basic right of clean water, Africa was afflicted with the worst drought caused by the West’s pollution from the 1970s to the 1990s. According to a new study published on April 24 the drought was blamed on the “pollution in the Northern Hemisphere, primarily from America and Europe.”
What was the culprit? Aerosol pollution. As tiny sulfate particles reflected the Sun’s light the synergistic effect of aerosols cooled the Northern Hemisphere that resulted in a shift of tropical rainfall patterns away from Central Africa. Fortunately, in the past decade clean air legislation has played an integral role in significantly decreasing aerosol pollution released in North America and Europe.
In light of this new information do we have the resources to end the global water crisis?
Jay Famiglletti of University of California, Irvine, says “we’ve passed too many tipping points—with climate change and with population growth and with human behavior—to be able to turn an extremely critical situation around.” We can, however, take action because we can always make a difference.
In his article, Famiglletti defines the global water crisis as “the inability to provide a reliable supply of potable water to villages, towns, cities and regional populations, all over the world … about a billion people around the world lack reliable access to potable water.” One of the key components of the global water crisis he presents is the public and elected officials’ understanding of the crisis, which I believe is crucial in controlling the crisis.
If my friend didn’t inform me of the water crisis I wouldn’t have gone to great lengths in educating myself about the issue. The only way we can dispel ignorance is through education. It begins with awareness that leads to understanding, which compels people to take action.
David Christof has made it his mission to take action and do something about the global water crisis and it’s no easy undertaking. Last year he ran from Prague to London raising money to bring a deep borehole to a rural Ugandan orphan school. St. Bonaventure Primary, in Mulajji Village, now has safe drinking water available to them.
This year David’s 63-day journey will begin in Prague and end in Africa. David’s adventure consists of running 1000km and biking 2000km while stopping at 30 schools en route. His goals are to educate children about the world water crisis, inspire them to pursue their dreams with passion, motivate children to be physically active, and raise awareness for those without clean drinking water.
People like David put me to shame with my petty distaste for tap water. I’m grateful to live in a country where I have access to clean water and will stop taking my basic right for granted.
We may not be able to end the global water crisis but we can change our actions to help address and raise awareness of a worsening issue.
Photo: Nannette Ricaforte