There are no alternatives to clean water. This means that we must both protect our water from pollution and put forward the neccessary effort to protect and preserve our finite water resources. Consumer-based societies and rapid population growth both contribute to a rising demand for water on a global scale.
Nations in the northern hemisphere consume water, in large part, through food consumption and consumerism. Two common examples are a one-pound steak and a pair of jeans which require up to 1,800 gallons and 2,900 gallons respectively to produce. These figures do not account for the pollution that the production of these commodities are typically responsible for.
The United States consumes more water on a per capita basis than any other country in the world. Here in the Northwest, consumption is increasing due to population growth, infilling of previously rural areas with homes and irrigated acreage, and a market-driven shift to water expensive crops such as vineyards.
Yet, as our consumption increases, our supply decreases.
Climate change scientists predict that our freshwater resources will decline as glaciers disappear. Mountain meltwater and runoff account for more than 50% of the world’s freshwater, and according to Washington’s Department of Ecology, over 60% of residents in Washington get their drinking water from groundwater.
Groundwater supplies in critical Washington aquifers have been dropping for decades; we are pumping more water than is coming in to recharge the aquifers. The Odessa Aquifer in Lincoln and Adams Counties is a prime example of this issue.
Water levels in the Odessa basalt aquifer drop roughly seven feet per year due to pumping from wells. In the past 26 years, the United States Geological Survery has measured a 180 foot decline in this aquifer that sustains the people, wildlife, and agriculture of Lincoln and Adams County. State and federal authorities have planned an elaborate and expensive program to pump water from the Columbia River, hundreds of miles away, into the parched aquifer.
CELP believes that we must act now in order to protect and preserve water, an essential natural resource.
“We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.”
— Jacques Yves Cousteau