Nonfiction in response to Clean Water and Sanitation
By Jason Sharer
CC Image Courtesy of J. Daniel Escareño
Water. It’s one of our basic necessities and one of the things that makes our planet habitable. It seems incomprehensible that we would go even one day without interacting with water in some way. Maybe the amount of water is just right. Even our youngest schoolchildren learn that the Earth has been recycling water for billions of years.
At times, it feels as though we have an overabundance of water. Just a few short months ago, our area was ravaged by floodwaters. As we endured the “dirty” side of Hurricane Harvey, it rained for days on end, with bayous overflowing their borders and flooding thousands of homes, businesses and roadways. Even when we’re not in the midst of a natural disaster, water seems plentiful here. We are so used to clean water flowing freely in our homes, we never give it a second thought. Our municipal utility district is on top of any slight aberration away from expected clean water guidelines. They practice transparency and react swiftly to any situation.
That’s not the case everywhere in the world. Two other teens and I researched ways that places without access to clean water could harvest rainwater using readily available resources. We developed a prototype that we named a “tank tap” and shared our ideas with others in the UK. Even if it’s not perfect, maybe it will inspire others to create something even better. Sometimes, though, water even feels scarce here. Our local community was relying too heavily on our aquifers for clean water, and projections had them being unable to keep up with public consumption. Over the past few years, we’ve laid the groundwork (quite literally) to get our drinking water from one of our larger lakes instead. In addition, we have a stated goal to reduce water usage by 30% over the next few years.
In the end, we should define our own role in making sure that the right amount of water gets to the right people at the right time. On an individual basis, we can reduce water usage by using rain barrels or limiting lawn watering. We can become citizen scientists and partner with GLOBE to analyze soil moisture samples, helping NASA calibrate their SMAP (Soil Moisture /Active Passive) satellite. Our companies can reduce their carbon footprint, helping to stop global warming and the melting of the polar ice caps. Our communities can help others in need. Wouldn’t it be exciting if we were to discover water on Mars or another Earth-like planet? But, until then, let’s take care of our own planet and each do our part.