Those of us working in the “water world” understand that we need to somehow shift the public’s attitudes from taking water for granted to treating it as a precious life-giving resource. Last week people living in Regina had a very small taste of the threat of not enough safe clean water. There was a power outage at the water treatment plant and city officials had to issue pleas to the public to decrease their use of water from the tap. Luckily the problem was resolved in less than 24 hours but it was a wake-up call in some respects. The official’s pleas to decrease use did result in 18% decrease for that day.
In North America, many people still treat water as though it is an unlimited, constantly available resource. Even though surveys show that the majority understand the essential nature of water – we simply cannot live without safe clean water – our collective behaviour in using it, is inconsistent with the fact there is a limited supply in the world. Canadians’ per capita use of water is the second highest in the world, surpassed only by Americans. This really is a behaviour that can change if we can focus enough attention on the availability of many technologies to reduce volume of water used.
So how can we bring about that necessary change in our collective behaviour? Are we all going to have to live through our taps running dry at least once, before we stop wasting water?