The need to ensure a sustainable water supply is a reality that affects everyone. Currently, the state of California is split over the issue of whether or not to support an $11 billion water bond that will be on the November 2010 state-wide ballot, according to the New York Times. The bond is supported by many businesses and prominent politicians, construction companies and irrigation districts, as well as some non profit groups such as the Nature Conservancy, National Heritage Institute, and Audubon California. On the opposing side are many groups such as the Sierra Club, Friends of the River, and Clean Water Action, who claim that the bond will do little to ensure water sustainability in the long-term.
The New York Times reports that the bond will fund billions of dollars in infrastructure upgrades such as new dams, reservoirs, canals, and water- and sewage-treatment facilities. Solutions for endangered salmon and the potential privatization of water reservoirs form part of the debate.
While some claim that more infrastructure would broaden water resources, opponents claim that the bond does little to promote sustainable water usage. Further, the No On The Water Bond Association (www.nowaterbond.com) insists that the bond would create more debt burden for Californians for an inefficient system that may damage downstream ecosystems. Also, only a little over 2% of the bond would fund conservation programs.
The real answer to the question of sustainability is not simply building more waste treatment facilities, suggests the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Citizens must become more responsible water users. This means that conservation must begin at home through living green and funding initiatives that get to the root of the problem as opposed to building over it.
We need to look no further than Habitat for Humanity’s Green Living Initiative in Tucson. The initiative has established a gray water system, which allows users with the turn of a handle the option of draining faucet/shower waters into their lawns/gardens as opposed to the sewers.
Education about the importance of water conservation should start in schools, which are enormous consumers of water. The EPA offers assistance to educators through programs such as ‘Tools for Schools’ which offer “background information for teachers and several student activities introducing water conservation principles”.
The water crisis began due to a lack of knowledge and respect for sustainable practices; we cannot afford to let it end the same way.