The 22nd of March was World Water Day. A day set aside to specifically remember and celebrate what we often take for granted. There is something magical about water. We’ve all experienced the powerful presence of water at some point in our lives. Perhaps through a beach vacation beside turquoise waters or a quick dip in the pool, a relaxing time by a serene lake, watching raindrops on roses or perhaps when we were kids splashing around in a paddling pool or a river. Water can evoke so many emotions. Can you think of what is your favourite memory of water?
Water is intrinsically connected to everything we do whether we are aware of it or not. From our cuppa in the morning to a long soak in a hot bath on weary days, from the things we choose to put on our plates to the objects we use everyday, a LOOOOOOOOOT of water goes into making all of that possible. The term used for the water that is embedded in all these things is called ‘Virtual Water’. You’d be proud to know (in case you didn’t already know) that the concept of virtual water was discovered by our very own Professor Tony Allan. Virtual water has taken the world by storm. Building on this concept is the notion of water footprints. Scientists have now discovered how much water goes into growing our food or making things. Take a look at the chart below. There is also a cool iPhone app by the Virtual Water Project that you can download from iTunes if you’d like to grow more conscious about how much water our everyday food and beverages really consume.
Another very important development is the recognition of the water-energy nexus. The idea that it takes a lot of water to generate energy and it takes a lot of energy to provide clean water.The infographic below can explain much better.
To give you an idea of how crucial this nexus is, consider this: in July 2012, India experienced the largest power outage in history over two days. It affected 670 million people in other words ‘more than the combined populations of the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Central America, and Brazil!’. If you care to know more, read 4 Ways Water Is Connected to India’s Blackouts. No trains, no power to pump water into overhead tanks, no TV, no lights, no air conditioning, no internet, no power to charge your phones and more. Can you imagine how you would cope if something like that were to happen here? We hope it won’t happen here or anywhere else again.
In the meanwhile though, let’s take a moment to celebrate this precious resource that nourishes life on earth.