When I was kid in elementary school, I remember hearing talks about El Niño. Although I didn’t quite know what it was, I thought it was some once-off thing that got blamed if the weather wasn’t just right. Now I’m an adult, and El Niño has reared its ugly head once again. The results are much more catastrophic than I ever knew as a youth.
In South Africa, the country I call home, we were not prepared for what El Niño would bring or actually what it wouldn’t bring. Rain was scarce during our named rainy season months of January and February earlier this year. Now that we’re in the dry Winter season, the drought is felt more than ever. How, you might ask?
We get our water supply from the local river. About two months back, they started closing down access to the river every other week. That means that we have water for a week and then no water for a week. Can you imagine turning the tap on and nothing coming out? Now, before I paint too dramatic of a picture, let me say that we do pay to haul in water so that we don’t go a whole week with absolutely no water. Still, this drought and water crisis has taught me the value of water as well as ways to conserve.
Did you know that, according to Water.org, 1 in 10 people lack access to safe water? 1 in 10, folks. That’s a whole lot of people. To be precise, twice the population of the U.S. live without access to safe water. You know what else I’ve been more aware of? Every time I flush the toilet, I use 9 liters (about 2.5 gallons) of water. For every minute I leave the water running in the shower, I use 15 liters (4 gallons) of water. Leaving the water running while brushing teeth uses 5 liters (about 1.5 gallons) per minute.
All of that information kicked my conservation skills into motion. Simple things like not leaving the water running while brushing teeth, taking shorter showers, and even flushing the toilet less are easy ways we’re conserving during this El Niño stricken drought. I’m also dreaming of ways to capture rain water, once the skies decide to let that wet stuff loose again.
Now, I’m not going to do something crazy and ask you to join me in my 2 minute shower, non-flushing toilet frenzy, but I am going to ask you to take a little time today to utter a simple “Thank you” for the gift of water. I have one other request. If you have kids, teach them about the gift of water and simple ways to conserve it. Growing up in the U.S.A., I had no idea how much of the world didn’t have access to clean water. Let’s be wise, and educate and conserve. It will have an impact.