Are We Running Out of Water?

Have you heard that there are some places in the world where people are literally running out of water?

Most recently, I’ve read about how Cape Town is preparing for “day zero” – the day they’ll run out of water. In California, I believe they have (had) the same problem and yesterday I read another article about Mexico City where water has also become a scarce commodity.


As Anders asked when I told him about it: “How do you live without water?” The simple answer is, of course…you can’t. I know there are (probably still) plenty of places in the world where you can’t just open the tap and expect water to flow freely and abundantly. And I bet that in all the places where you can, it’s one of those things that people take for granted.

We get frustrated when we open the tap and there’s hardly any water pressure. We get annoyed when the water takes forever to heat up. And we get upset if there’s only (God forbid) cold water in the shower.

But what if there was no water? Like no water ever… or for months at a time. What if the taps simply dried up and you had to actually go get it and you could only get a certain amount so that you’d have to really use it carefully.

This sounds like an absolute nightmare. You’re whole life may come to a grinding halt because you have to spend hours every day getting the water, standing in line and driving or walking from your house to wherever the water supply is located.

We’re talking about people who all of a sudden won’t be able to work because they have to get water… a basic necessity that most of us take for granted. I mean, how often do you think to yourself “oh, I’m so lucky that I have running water in my kitchen or in my bathroom”…? I’m sure that would be never.

But, in fact, those of us who have running water (hot and cold) in our homes are extremely lucky.

In 2000, my mom and I traveled to the Philippines to visit my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. We spent about a month there, mostly in the beautiful countryside where we stayed with our family in a house that had no running water.

As I remember it, the men had to go off somewhere to collect water and bring it back in buckets and large containers and then store in a huge barrel that was standing in the middle of the garden. I don’t know where they got the water from because I don’t remember going with them. But there must have been a “community tap” somewhere. Water was (and maybe still is) something that they didn’t take for granted because they didn’t have the luxury of running water at their fingertips.

In the last few years, I’ve become more aware of water and especially careful not to waste it. A while ago, I started consciously turning off the water when I brush my teeth (and telling Anders to do the same), when I’m in the shower or doing dishes. We use the dishwasher on the shortest cycle (and I hope it saves water compared to doing dishes by hand) and fill up the washing machine to do laundry once a week.

We don’t drink the tap water where we live, so we also have to buy drinking water. When about a month ago we suddenly experienced that we couldn’t buy bottled water where I live (there was a sudden crisis), it hit me… are we running out of water? What if we ran out of water?

That would be a nightmare.

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