“Water” you doing to conserve?

Maeve Greeley, Assistant Social Media Manager

The topic of water scarcity dominates headlines worldwide. Its most obvious manifestations continue to be the billions of people lacking clean and affordable water, as well as droughts plaguing the world’s agricultural breadbaskets. Water serves as a catalyst towards global warming and is considered by the European Union to be the largest issue the world faces today. The depletion of the fresh water supply will have highly detrimental effects if the resource base continues to be managed unsustainably.

97.5 percent of the water on earth contains salt, deeming it unfit for human consumption. The remaining 2.5 percent constitutes the freshwater supply, two-thirds of which can be found locked in glaciers and ice caps. This leaves less than one percent of the earth’s water in our groundwater, rivers, and lakes. A striking statistic provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) states that only 0.007 percent of the world’s total water supply can currently be deemed “safe for consumption.” This small amount must then be distributed among the more than 7 billion people that occupy the planet. It should come as no surprise that the distribution remains far from even. As an institution that currently consumes excessive amounts of this fresh water, it is our responsibility to minimize impact and prevent further exacerbation of this issue. Fortunately, we have an opportunity to participate in advancing the actualization of the sustainable utopia and to take immediate actions towards a more sustainable strategy: low flow shower heads.

Colgate, an institution with a demographic, academic caliber, and size similar to the University, conducted research on average student water use per day. They concluded that students used an average of 74 gallons of water, an astonishing amount considering that “the estimated amount required for daily survival (including hygiene) is approximately 14 gallons.” Consider a typical Dasani water bottle and multiply that by 555. 

That daunting visual illustrates the average daily water consumption of college students. Now, multiply that by the 3,500 students at the University for a staggering 12.2 million gallons on a typical day. 

By mitigating this extensive impact through low flow shower heads, the University can enhance its sustainability efforts and serve as a leader in this domain. These shower heads are currently in use at other peer schools such as Duke, Colgate, Notre Dame, and the Claremont Colleges. Starting with one dormitory hall and expanding across campus, the University can do the same.

Low flow shower heads provide an economically prudent initiative for the reduction of increasing water bills. They instigate a socially responsible project that follows the University’s mission statement to “educate our students to serve the common good and to promote justice in ways sensitive to the moral and ethical dimensions of life.” They will also diminish the environmental crisis already underway. Through the inclusion of low flow shower heads in its dormitories, the University will be enhancing its triple bottom line initiatives and be “doing well by doing good” through omitting unnecessary consumption.

Many individuals throughout the world walk several miles per day to find safe drinking water. Deaths caused by contaminated water resources have skyrocketed worldwide. Its shortage has even been predicted to the cause the next Great War. Water scarcity is a large scale issue, but the application of these shower heads can help the University take a small step towards initiating a greater change.

Please contact me at [email protected] if you would like to take part in the quest to implement low flow shower heads on our campus.

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