Value of Water

Posted Monday, January 04, 2016

We drink it. We bathe and swim in it. We cook with it. But, have you thought about how much water is part of your daily life? Water is used in almost every manufacturing process from clothes to cars to food to computers. In fact, almost everything we touch every day has been made with water.

Did you know?

  • It takes 1,500 gallons to process one barrel of beer.
  • It takes 101 gallons to make one pound of wool or cotton.
  • It takes 1,851 gallons to refine one barrel of crude oil.
  • It takes 62,600 gallons to produce one ton of steel.

The United Nations estimates about half the world’s population—potentially more than three billion people—may suffer from water shortages by the year 2025. It’s estimated that more than two billion people do not have access to safe drinking water or sanitation.

As populations grow, the demand on our water resources is challenged to keep up. In the United States, the infrastructure is outdated. In developing countries, infrastructure is needed.

Did you know?

  • Although a person can live without food for more than a month, a person can only live without water for approximately one week or less.
  • Only one percent of the earth’s water is suitable for drinking water.
  • The average person in the United States uses 100-150 gallons of water each day, Europeans use an average of 74 gallons, Africans use 17 gallons and the Chinese use about 23 gallons.
  • About 70 percent of water is used for agriculture globally, while 20 percent is used for industry and 10 percent for residential use.
  • Asia has significant water challenges with 36 percent of the world’s water supply, yet 60 percent of the total population. 
  • Leaks are an enormous problem. In developing countries, nearly 40 percent of the water is lost before it reaches its destination.
  • In the United States, we pay about $.005 per gallon of water. Compared to a gallon of milk at $3.75—750 times the cost of water.

For many Skagit County residents, the main source of water for their homes and businesses originates from the Skagit River. This year’s dry weather and low snowpack in the mountains has cast a spotlight on how important water is to the communities we live in.

Water managers face a delicate balancing act when it comes to ensuring there is sufficient water for people, farms, and industry, while still leaving enough in our rivers and streams to protect fish habitat.

The Skagit River and its tributaries support some of the healthiest salmon runs in the Northwest. When stream levels drop too low, water temperatures go up and become lethal to salmon returning from the ocean to spawn.

Skagit PUD, which operates the largest water system in the county, provides on average nine million gallons of piped water to approximately 65,000 people every day. The Skagit River provides roughly 45 percent of the source water in the Judy Reservoir system, which supplies the cities of Burlington, Mount Vernon, and Sedro-Woolley.

Pressure on water resources comes from many sources, including population growth, in-stream flows (protecting fish, wildlife and recreation), and business needs. Water systems using their water efficiently allow growth in their communities and water for other environmental uses. Promoting the efficient use of water helps ensure reliable water supplies are available for all customers.

Take a moment to reflect about the importance of water in your daily life. A liquid we can’t live without. What’s your water footprint? And, what can you do to make a difference?

SOURCES:
Global Water Intelligence, US Environmental Protection Agency, and the United Nations