WWF UK Blog  

World Water Day: A special day, a normal day


Saturday will be a normal day…

…My morning will follow the normal routine. The alarm will intrude at 8am, as it always does at the weekend. I’ll grope for the snooze button, like I always do. Eventually I’ll haul myself out of bed, muttering grumpily, just as I did today. Just as I will on Sunday.

World Water Day logoI’ll fill the kettle and brew a pot of tea. I’ll make two portions of porridge, one each for my other half and me. After we finish, I’ll put our bowls in the sink. “I’ll wash the dishes this evening”, I’ll promise, just like I usually do. I’ll clean my teeth, I’ll shower, I’ll flush the loo.

I imagine that you’ll probably do something similar tomorrow morning – although perhaps you’ll be brighter-eyed than me in the morning.

Saturday will probably be a normal day for you too. But Saturday will also be a special day. It’ll be World Water Day. Officially. Globally. As designated by the UN. If there’s one moment in the year when we might think about water – how we depend on it, where it comes from and how we can take better care of it – Saturday should be the day.

For us Brits, the water we use to make our morning cuppa, to shower, to flush the toilet adds up to about 150 litres a day. This is the water we might be conscious of using directly. This isn’t the whole story though. Tomorrow – as I normally do – I’ll probably wear a cotton shirt and trousers and leather shoes. I’ll put milk in my tea, munch on a cheese sandwich for lunch, enjoy a curry in the evening. All of these things require water too – to grow, clean or process the ingredients.

Even the electricity I’ll use to boil the kettle tomorrow morning will need water, either to spin the turbines of a hydropower dam or to cool the generators in a power station.

A mug of tea © readephotographyA mug of tea © readephotography.

According to WWF’s Water Footprint Report (PDF), the average UK citizen indirectly soaks up far more of this “virtual water” than we do of direct water – more than 4500 litres, in fact. Per person. Every day. That’s about 30 times the water we use through the tap. It equates to 50 full-to-the-brim bathtubs. These are big numbers. They might shock us. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing that we use water – although we could all be a bit thriftier with it.

We all need to eat and drink. Wearing clothes is pretty important too. So is personal hygiene. And the production of our food, clothing and energy employs people and provides livelihoods, in the UK and abroad.

The key point is this: we depend on water in many and surprising ways. It’s easy to forget as we sip our tea that the water we all depend on, whether virtually or directly, doesn’t really come from the tap, the tank or the pipe. It comes from rainfall or rivers, lakes or aquifers. It comes from nature.

As the world is becoming more crowded and hungrier, it is also getting thirstier. Many rivers, lakes and aquifers are already alarmingly depleted or polluted. Habitats are being destroyed and aquatic wildlife is declining.

River Nar in Sidcup, KentRiver Nar in Sidcup, Kent. One of the stretches of water that Coca-Cola are helping to utilise and preserve.

It’s not just you and me that depend on water. The companies that sell us the food we eat, make the stuff we buy or generate the energy we use need it too. This is why many companies are now worrying about water. The issue registered as one of the top three global business risks in a recent survey.

It’s why we’re working with some of the most concerned companies – such as Coca-Cola, HSBC, M&S and SABMiller  – to try to improve the way we address key risks to water supplies, such as over-use, pollution or destruction of wetland habitats.

Saturday will be a special day. It will be World Water Day. Saturday will be a normal day. I’ll still need to wash the breakfast dishes at some point. Just as I always do.

What will you be doing to help reduce your water usage on World Water Day? Leave us your comments on Dave’s blog.

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