Guest Commentaries

Guest commentary: Saving water is essential to our survival

At 82 gallons a day, it all adds up
June 1, 2022 at 4:45 a.m.

By Natalie Larson, Meridian High School

Humans need water to survive. We can't go three days without it! It is the core of sustainability in all things, including ecosystems, reducing global burdens, improving the economy and world overall, and obviously, human survival. 

According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, “It is central to the production and preservation of a host of benefits and services for people. Water is also at the heart of adaptation to climate change, serving as the crucial link between the climate system, human society and the environment.”

Many daily tasks include water: showering, using sinks, doing dishes and laundry, flushing toilets, washing things, drinking, and making meals for both people and pets.

Though this already seems like a lot, it only scratches the surface of water consumption by humans. There are two ways humans use water. The water we can see in our everyday actions, such as the things previously listed, is commonly known as direct water. When we think about water consumption, this is typically where our mind goes first.

The second use of water is indirect water. This water goes into producing, growing and manufacturing items that many humans use in their day-to-day lives. It is for crops, livestock, clothing and many other things.

Clothing is an excellent example of indirect water usage. For example, we can see how much water (estimates are as high as 8,000 to 10,000 liters) is required to make a pair of jeans. Water is essential for growing cotton to make the jeans.

A Forbes article states, “The making of a typical pair of jeans starts with the use of genetically modified cotton which is then doused with toxic indigo dyes that are often dumped into nearby waterways, turning them blue.”

There are so many more uses of water than I have listed, both direct and indirect.

Eventually, all of this water usage adds up. Most American citizens use an average of 82-plus gallons of water a day. This current consumption of water is draining our rivers, bays, oceans and other wetlands. Also, the environment in many places is drying up. These root problems can cause and lead to many other terrible things happening in the world. Creatures who depend on water and their environment to survive are starting to die.

And that includes humans.

“Sustainable water management means using water in a way that meets current, ecological, social and economic needs without compromising the ability to meet those needs in the future,” according to The Water Foundation. “It requires water managers to look beyond jurisdictional boundaries and their immediate supply operations, managing water collaboratively while seeking resilient regional solutions that minimize risks.”

Using less water consists of taking fewer and shorter showers, flushing the toilet less, doing fewer and bigger loads of laundry and dishes, and never leaving the water running when it's unnecessary. You can also stop leaks your house may have, replace old toilets and washing machines, and invest in better water faucet aerators and showerheads.

A few ways to reduce the use of indirect water: you can buy fewer clothes, meats, plants, bottled water, animals and more. Buying unnecessary items that include water contributes — obviously — to the problem. So, to counteract this issue, you should stop buying things you no longer need. 

You can also reuse many things. Selling, donating or giving away items you no longer need or have a use for is an excellent way to reuse those items. Recycling and upcycling are great ways to cut down on water usage, even if it is not directly visible or noticeable.

Doing these things not only reduces your water use but also reduces how much money you spend. The money you would spend on the water-made, grown or manufactured products will leave more water for rivers, bays, oceans, wildlife, livestock and other things that help keep the environment healthy.

Decreasing our water consumption is best for the planet overall. If we don't take action to resolve this problem, soon we could lose our home. People, animals and the environment rely on water to sustain them. By trying to save water you are one step closer to a better, cleaner, happier planet.

CDN thanks Meridian High School teacher Ryan Killian's ninth-grade Contemporary World Problems class for submitting essays about ways in which consumption impacts people and places around the world. The above essay was chosen from other quality papers written by students Cash Latham, Kennedy Brzozowski, Payton Katschke, Liam Wolven, Aunaleisa Ross, Angel Villalobos, Hattie Stratton, Priya Mann, Japleen Atwal, Bethany Bryon and Natalie Larson.

Local teachers interested in submitting student work to CDN's opinion page are encouraged to contact Ron Judd, executive editor, at

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