BY SARAH MIERS, Spark Fellow
Last Tuesday was World Water Day. For me, it was a much-needed reminder of the scarcity of our fresh water resources.
Around the world, women in our roles as caregivers are disproportionately impacted by scarcity and contamination. Because the task of providing safe water is often delegated to women, the time and effort devoted to collecting water steals away from potential time spent on education, childcare and self-development.
But I live in California. I sort of assumed that I wouldn’t have to worry about the availability and quality of fresh water here in the Bay Area. After some further prodding it seems this isn’t necessarily the case…Fitting enough, this year’s theme for World Water Day is urban water management- a theme that definitely resonates with me here in California.
Take a look at the following facts on CA water management issues:
- California’s water systems are designed to serve 16 million residents, yet in practice it is pushed to serve nearly 40 million.
- Each year, California loses 10% of its water resources due to outdated infrastructure.
- California’s Delta is a key resource for 25 million people (including us in the Bay Area) and 2.5 million acres of our farmland. Experts estimate that a 6.5 earthquake, a likely possibility here in CA, could substantially damage the Delta, flood the surrounding farmland and allow outside salt water to contaminate its fresh water reserves.
- Here in San Francisco, residents of Bayview Hunter’s Point are exposed to seriously contaminated water – it is reported to have “ten times as many contaminated water dischargers on a per capita basis as the rest of San Francisco.”
- A new study shows that up to 1.3 million residents in the San Joaquin Valley, or 35% of the Valley’s population, are at risk of drinking tap water contaminated with nitrates from agricultural fertilization- the health effects are serious and sometimes fatal.
Spark grantee Community Water Center addresses such problems in the San Joaquin Valley. The Community Water Center works with women leaders within these communities with limited access to fresh groundwater resources, advocates for better water management practices and works to improve the quality of existing water reserves in the Valley.
I hope this post gives you some fresh insight on the water issues we face today. Water is our most precious resource- we all rely on it, and we can’t forget how scarce it is.