Water. We generally take it for granted here in America. We expect that when we turn on the tap, it will be there, fresh and clean. We use it without thinking about it. It is like the air that we breathe.
What if we had to walk hours to get water and then carry it back home with us in a cistern weighing around 40 pounds? What if, even then, we could not count on that water being pure and unpolluted and free from disease? What if we had to drink it anyway and give it to our children, because it is the only water there is? This is the reality for far too many people in the developing world.
It is a fact that unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. The toll is estimated at 42,000 people a week! That is 42,000 human beings dying from preventable water-borne diseases such as salmonella, hepatitis A, cholera, and E.coli.
It is also a fact that more people have access to a cell phone than to a toilet. An incredible 2.5 billion people on earth lack access to toilets. Instead of going into a sewage system, their waste is spilled into streams and rivers, the same streams and rivers from which these people take their drinking water. The wonder is that more than 42,000 a week do not die from this pollution.
On this blue planet that is mostly covered by water and where all life depends upon water, fresh, clean water is a scarce commodity and is becoming scarcer. But that is a problem that seems to little concern us here, where the average American uses 159 gallons of water a day, more than 15 times the average person in the developing world. We shower or bathe and wash our hands throughout the day. We water our lawns and wash our cars. We use a LOT of water.
Consider that an average five minute shower uses about ten gallons of water. What would it be like if we only had ten gallons of water to bathe, wash our clothes, cook our meals and quench our thirst? I'll bet we would be careful with that water and we would not take it for granted. That is the reality for too many people in the world, and if we do not start paying attention, it may someday be our reality as well.
Water is the most precious substance on earth. More precious than gold or diamonds. We can live without gold or diamonds. We cannot live without water. Let us manage this resource wisely and do what we can to see that everyone on earth has a sufficiency of fresh, clean water. It's the least we can do as we use of 159 gallons today.