How Sustainable Is Your Drinking Water?

Water is a vital necessity. In America, many people can turn on their faucets to access this resource at any time. However, we often fail to acknowledge that it’s a finite element.

We must increase the sustainability of our drinking water. It’s best to start by considering methods of preservation for residential and commercial water sourcing.

By Jane Marsh

Calculation Factors

When exploring your drinking water options, you must first examine what is and is not environmentally sustainable. This term signifies humanity’s interaction with the global ecosystem in a non-degrading or depleting manner. When we engage in ecologically sustainable actions, we preserve the resources necessary to support generations to come.

Because water is a nonrenewable resource, we must conserve enough of it to sustain life indefinitely. To further decrease water extraction’s environmental impact, we can reduce the energy used to pump, treat and distribute it globally.

It takes nearly 56 billion kilowatt-hours of energy every year to produce drinkable water. Most power used in this process comes from nonrenewable sources, like fossil fuels. They emit greenhouse gases into the environment that increase the global temperature.

When you let your faucet run for five minutes, it uses as much energy as a60-watt light turned on for 14 hours. Fortunately, we can protect the atmosphere and freshwater sources to conserve food supplies and accessibility to drinking water.

More than 884 million individuals do not have access to safe drinking water. To increase our water sources’ sustainability and provide proper hydration to people worldwide, we must first evaluate our current systems.

drinking water in an adult blur bottle close up
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Conventional Water Sources

Many individuals shower, flush their toilets and drink water without considering where it’s coming from. This lack of awareness, or accessibility to this information, led to residential health crises throughout history. Flint, Michigan, is an example of this phenomenon.

Few regions reach the point of drinking toxic water, but many individuals still consume harmful chemicals through these sources. In the U.S., you probably receive your residential water from the city or a well. City water comes from surface sources like lakes, reservoirs and rivers. The water travels to a treatment plant, a storage center and then your home.

At the treatment facility, fluoride and other chemical compounds mix with the water to eliminate harmful bacteria and improve human health. High doses can cause adverse health effects. These systems also extract unused water rather than recycling previously processed liquids and deplete freshwater sources.

Well water also poses severe harm to people’s well-being. When it rains or snow melts, stormwater leaks into the ground, reaching a dense layer of rock. The liquid that settles above the rock is groundwater, accessed by wells.

In rural and agricultural regions, this water may contain pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Rainwater washes them away, ultimately forcing the runoff into the ground. The consumption of pesticide-contaminated water can cause adverse health effects.

close up photo of water drop
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Sustainable Alternatives

You can utilize sustainable water sources to decrease your environmental impact and protect your health. Rainwater harvesting, water reclaiming and conscious groundwater extraction can limit the exploitation of freshwater sources. Government officials can install these low-impact systems in regions without access to safe water.

Rainwater harvesting systems capture, store and process stormwater for residential use. This is an age-old system with a sophisticated flair. Rather than collecting water in buckets for gardening, you can safely treat and consume this stormwater. Rainwater harvesting systems decrease the degradation and depletion associated with traditional water sourcing.

Reclaiming systems also increase the sustainability of your drinking water. Today’s technology allows us to use ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis to recycle used water for consumption. These systems remove suspended solids, metals, bacteria and other harmful components from previously utilized liquids.

Conscious groundwater sourcing is similar to well water extraction with the intention of conservation. You can use this system if you live far from agricultural regions that use pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. To limit the energy associated with processing this liquid, you can also install a solar water purifier. These systems limit your reliance on greenhouse gases and freshwater exploitation.

Combining Sources

It’s essential to extract a little water from various locations to preserve global water sources. Slowing the rate of water depletion helps conserve vital resources for future generations. You can help the environment and your health when you gather your drinking water from sustainable sources.