It wets my foot, but prettily,
It chills my life, but wittily,
It is not disconcerted,
It is not broken-hearted:
Well used, it decketh joy,
Adorneth, doubleth joy:
Ill used, it will destroy,
In perfect time and measure
With a face of golden pleasure
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Water"
Today is Blog Action Day 2010, when bloggers around the world focus on the massive, poorly understood crisis of insufficient clean drinking water. The goal is to start conversations that will lead to solutions. This video explains what it's all about.
Blog Action Day 2010: Water from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.
Globally, almost a billion people lack access to safe drinking water. Every week, 38,000 children die from a lack of clean drinking water and other unsanitary conditions. Meanwhile in the developed world, where we take our showers, brush our teeth and wash our dishes with the simple turn of a faucet, it's easy to pretend the water crisis is someone else's problem. Increasingly it is ours, too.
In the U.S., average water consumption has declined from a peak of 2,000 gallons a day per person in 1975 to about 1,400 gallons today. But as the Circle of Blue website points out, that's not the trend in states including California and Florida, where rising demand is pushing scarce supplies to the limit. Water shortages have also challenged agriculture in the Colorado basin, and Scientific American reports that the Ogallala Aquifer in the high plains, which supplies water for approximately 20% of the U.S. agricultural harvest, is drying up.
Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Sciences, the problem is also right in my own New York State backyard. Beyond the legacy of chemical, industrial and household pollutants still plaguing this state's rich system of rivers, lakes and watersheds from past abuses, our water supply is being damaged right now by chemicals from gardening supplies, road salt and other unregulated runoff.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Watersheds page leads to disturbing facts like these about the Delaware Watershed, which supplies much of New York City's drinking water: While 53% of the rivers in the Delaware Watershed are in good condition, 54% of the lakes are in poor condition and 45% haven't even been adequately assessed. The Lower Hudson Watershed is in far worse shape, with 55% of lakes and 100% of estuary waters rated in poor condition. The state's lack of a coherent, uniform set of water management regulations makes improving the situation difficult.
Want to help?
- Discover ways to provide clean drinking water and save lives in the developing world on the Charity Water website.
- To start cleaning up the water supply closer to home, visit the National Resource Defense Council's website for twelve simple ways to start.
- Stay informed on the crisis at home and around the world via the Circle of Blue website.
You taught me how to live without the rain.
You are thirst and thirst is all I know.
You are sand, wind, sun, and burning sky,
The hottest blue. You blow a breeze and brand
Your breath into my mouth. You reach—then bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
You wrap your name tight around my ribs
And keep me warm. I was born for you.
Above, below, by you, by you surrounded.
I wake to you at dawn. Never break your
Knot. Reach, rise, blow, Sálvame, mi dios,
Trágame, mi tierra. Salva, traga, Break me,
I am bread. I will be the water for your thirst.
~ Benjamin Alire Saenz, "To the Desert"