Blue Gold

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Where water once flowed (Ibungila, Tanzania)

Today—March 22—is World Water Day.

Having lived on both the African and North American continents, I’ve experienced water scarcity and abundance.

Blue gold—as water is sometimes called—is an increasingly precious resource. We need it for basic sanitation, to cook, to bathe, to clean, to wash, to farm, for industrial purposes … clean water is vital for life and health, yet so many have limited access to it.

Think about it, what would you do if:

  • You needed to cook, but the water was brown?
  • You needed to bathe, but the faucet was dry?
  • You used the toilet, to discover it doesn’t flush?
  • You needed to do laundry, but water was scant?
  • Your farm needed irrigation, but the skies were parched?

When water is scarce, we’re forced to “go green,” not because it’s the cool thing to do, but because it’s necessary for survival.

Benjamin Franklin wrote:

When the well is dry, we learn the worth of water

I was reminded of this important lesson during my recent trip to the African continent. Living in places with a limited water supply forced me to learn the art of water conservation. I’ve mastered the basin bath—using cold water might I add! I’m an expert at using toilets with no flushing mechanism. I’ve even developed a whole new appreciation for the saying, “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down.”

In North America, we’re blessed with so many resources. Open the faucet, and water flows freely. I used to brush my teeth with the water running, now I know better. I used to take long hot showers, now I know better. I used to leave the sprinkler system running all day in the summer, now I know better.

Water scarcity underscores our need for better water management. Let’s think about what we can do to stop wasting water and start raising awareness about water cooperation.