The world`s total water supply exceeds 325 million

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the world’s total water supply exceeds 325
million cubic miles and over 71 percent of earth’s surface is covered with water. Yet as
the old saying goes, “Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink” is truer than ever.
This is because 97 percent of the world’s water is saline and of the remaining fresh water,
2/3 of it is locked up in ice caps, glaciers and permanent snow. That leaves less than one
percent of the world’s water supply available for human consumption.
The limited availability of fresh water is further impacted by the accelerating population
growth (drink, wash, human waste, agriculture), pollution (industry, chemicals, road salt),
climate change, and man-made dams interrupting the rivers. During the past half
century, world’s water usage has doubled and consumption is projected to increase by
another 50 percent by 2050.
At the present time, 1.1 billion people lack access to clean water and 2.4 billion lack
access to proper sanitation. This catastrophe of human hunger and disease results in over
2 million death, annually.
Over 96 percent of all available fresh water is in the ground. In Wisconsin 70percent of
residents depend on groundwater for drinking supply. However, even in a water-rich
state like ours, there is plenty to be concerned about. For example, in Madison, growth,
development, and over-pumping of groundwater has resulted in a decline of groundwater
levels to the extent that in some places, lake water is being pulled into the groundwater,
rather than groundwater feeding the Madison’s Yahara lakes.
Over the years, UW-Madison has contributed to our community’s huge water
consumption and pollution problems. In fact, by 2002 our University’s water usage had
reached over 3.1 million gallons per day. This amount is enough to meet the current
daily water consumption of over 400,000 people living in Cambodia. Clearly not a
sustainable situation!
To reverse this growing trend in consumption, the University launched a comprehensive
water conservation program in 2002 by replacing inefficient water fixtures (toilets,
urinals, shower heads), modifying air conditioning systems, reexamining campus
irrigation policies (lawns, trees, shrubs, flower beds), and promoting awareness and
education. We are pleased to report that these efforts have resulted in an over 41 percent
reduction in our campus’s water consumption. This level of saving is enough to fill two
Olympic size swimming pools every day, to reduce our water bill by $700,000 each year,
and it’s a perfect example of what happens when we decide to conserve!