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World Water Day and what you can do to help

Water is probably the most 'taken for granted' thing on the planet. In the UK most of us don't think twice before turning on the tap, watering the garden or going swimming. But isn't there plenty of it? Oceans, lakes and rivers make up more of the Earth than land. So what's the problem?


In fact, only about 3% of the water on earth can be used by people. The rest of it is permanently frozen, deep underground, or is salt water. So it isn't as plentiful as we think. And the water we can use has a bit of an epic journey before it even reaches our taps...

  1. Water is collected in a reservoir. This can come from rainfall and rivers or run off from hills and mountains. Sometimes it is piped underground from lakes and faraway rivers.
  2. The water is fed to a water treatment works. It is left for a while so that the dirt and sediment will settle and is then filtered.
  3. The much cleaner water is treated with chemicals to kill bacteria and diseases.

The treatment process can take up to a week in some areas. And when we're done with the water, it then needs to be treated all over again. Water collected from a sewer needs some serious work to remove all the rags, grit, gravel and human waste.

Corn Field in Summer Drought

During a hot summer, water is not only falling in to a reservoir, it's also being evaporated out of it. And it's not only you in your home that is using water. Water is vital to every industry, especially food production. According to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organisation) it can take up to 5,000 litres of water to grow one kilogram of rice, and up to 11,000 litres of water to grow enough food to feed a cow. Cows also need up to 4,000 litres of water to produce the milk that we drink every day. Water is also needed in manufacturing industries and power plants for cooling. You can scroll down to the bottom of this post for our top water saving tips in the home.


In developed countries, each person can use up to 1,000 litres of water a day drinking, cooking, washing, flushing and watering plants. In countries without a readily available supply of water, people use as little as 5 litres! 2013 is the International Year of Water Co-operation. In developing countries, access to water not only causes illness, disease and poverty, it also causes conflict. With co-operation on water management, drinking water supply and sanitation services, social and political tensions can be overcome, and peace and trust can be built between different communities. Universal access to water fulfils a human right that is as necessary as breathing. But it can also help eradicate poverty, stimulate development, provide opportunities and decent living conditions for millions of people. Hundreds of thousands of people die every year from conditions caused by unsafe drinking water, and for many people, fetching water for their families and villages from water sources over a mile away is a full time job.

Water co-operation begins with us. Spreading the message that water is valuable, and important. Try and imagine a life where you only have 5 litres of water a day to use. Some people don't even have that...

Top Tips for Saving Water

  1. Fix leaky taps - one leaky tap can waste up to 100 litres of water a month.
  2. Don't use washing machines or dishwashers for a few items. Make sure you have a full load, and don't use the extra rinse unless you really need to.
  3. When boiling the kettle only boil the amount of water you need. The rest will probably get poured away by the next person and you'll save energy too.
  4. Don't tip washing up water down the sink. You can use this 'grey water' for watering the garden.
  5. Collect rainwater to water house plants . They'll actually prefer it.
  6. Don't leave the tap running while washing up or brushing your teeth.
  7. Have a shower instead of a bath. Or if you're not too grotty, share the bath water. The average shower uses 80 litres of water, and the average bath uses 170 litres!
  8. Get rid of the bidet. Andrex do a wonderful moistened toilet tissue that's safe to flush too!
  9. Instead of a sprinkler system, give plants a quick blast with the hosepipe, or take a leisurely stroll with the watering can. It's also best to water plants later in the day when there is less chance of the water evaporating.
  10. Use a brush to clean paths and driveways instead of a hose pipe.

Useful Links

World Water Day - International Year of Water Co-operation                                             Find out if you're eligible for a FREE Water Saving Pack                                                   Visit the UNESCO Homepage


Leave a comment

One comment on “World Water Day and what you can do to help”

  • BeckyB

    Thanks Judy. It's great to see people really paying attention to the message of World Water Day. Like I mentioned in my comment on the site, I wasn't too bothered myself until I sat down and looked at the facts! Thanks :)


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