by Alyssa Pfluger, MMWD CivicSpark Water Fellow
Conservation has become a way of life in California. But even in other states or countries with more abundant freshwater supplies, water efficiency is still critical.
In Marin, we’re used to thinking of water as a limited resource. But globally, too, there is only so much freshwater available. Although 75% of the earth is water, 97.5% of that water is saline ocean water. That means only about 2.5% of earth’s water is freshwater, and most of that is frozen in icecaps and glaciers, or trapped too far underground to reach. Only 1% of all freshwater worldwide (liquid and frozen) is available for use.
Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD) customers aren’t the only ones who depend on MMWD water: For every two gallons of water we provide to our customers, we release about one gallon of water for fish habitat. Elsewhere, too, it’s common for lakes and rivers to be shared by communities both inside and outside the watershed, as well as local fish and wildlife. Saving water helps to ensure there’s water when we need it.
Rainfall in Marin varies widely from year to year; since we started keeping records in 1879, we’ve received as much as 112 inches in a year and as little as 19. We never know when the next dry year will be, so using water wisely is always important. This is true elsewhere, too: Every region in the world receives a variable amount of rain each year. As climate change alters global weather patterns, precipitation may become even more unpredictable—and conservation even more important.
Even in places with abundant freshwater, it takes energy to pump water from its source, as well as treat, distribute, and heat it. Every time we save water, all the energy involved in the process is saved as well—which in turn saves money and reduces pollution.
Water conservation isn’t just a California issue; it’s a global necessity. So if you’re traveling this season, remember the importance of worldwide conservation. With your California-conservation habits already in place, you’re good to go!