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The Value of Water: Do You Take It for Granted?

Water is our planet’s most precious and vital resource. If you read the Pelican Water blog you’ll run across this maxim countless times, but how much do you really appreciate pure, filtered water?

In developed countries around the world we often don’t think about the immense amount of planning, treatment, and work that goes into our water supply. If you’re thirsty in the morning you simply grab a glass of water, turn on the faucet, and instantly quench your thirst.

Across the web you’ll find this popular saying that expresses the value of water with clarity: “once you carry your own water you will learn the value of every drop.” While this saying exists on many websites as general advice to be more grateful, in its original form it also serves as a reminder of the literal hardship of carrying water that many people in the world still experience.

According to The Water Project more than 1 billion people today do not have access to clean drinking water. That’s 1 in every 8 people on Earth! In fact, their website states “poverty in Africa is often caused by a lack of access to clean, safe drinking water.” Living in a country where clean water is readily available it may be hard as Americans to imagine a daily reality where water is not guaranteed.

Even when these 1 billion people have access to water it often entails long, grueling walks — most clocking in over 30 minutes — in order to provide the home with 5 gallons of water. NPR analyzed multiple public health studies covering sub-Saharan African communities and found that approximately 13.54 million women and 3.36 million children carry water to their homes once a day.

These are not simple strolls. In addition to taking up a great deal of time they also are physically taxing. The most common container for transporting water in these communities is a jerry can, a large plastic container that weighs 40 pounds when full of 5 gallons of water. Elderly women and young children alike must lug this water from the nearest distribution point, often balancing the jerry can on their heads.

After reading this we bet your household chores don’t sound so bad. Create an educational opportunity with your children by tasking them with carrying something heavy (but not something that weighs 40 pounds – choose an item that is feasible given their age and size) across the lawn a few times. Then let them know that people around the world must carry 40 pounds of water for 30 minutes just to bring home 5 gallons of water!

You can extend this activity by tracking your water usage for a day. Fill up a large container and see how quickly the water disappears. How much did they use for brushing their teeth? For drinking? How about taking a shower?

One change you can make in your home to create a safer, healthier planet is to stop buying plastic bottled water from the supermarket every week. Instead, install a water filter and get a reusable bottle that anyone in your family can take on the go. Not only is carrying plastic water bottles home bad for the environment, it’s also extremely costly. As we previously reported, switching from bottled water to reusable bottles will save a typical family more than $40,000 in a 20-year time period!

Teaching the value of water in your home is a great step toward practicing water conservation. When you know how precious this resource is you can be more aware of how you and your family consume and use water on a regular basis.