Five hundred researchers assembled last week in Bonn, Germany for the Global Water System Project Conference, “Water in the Anthropocene” where they made recommendations focused on the “science, governance, and management of water resources.”
They warned that in as little as two generations and without global change, billions of people will face severe challenges accessing fresh water.
The problem of clean water access will require a balance of technical solutions and political compromises that take heed of differing value systems and equity. They warn that a failure to adopt inclusive approaches will make it impossible to design globally effective green growth strategies or implement sustainable economic policies.
Fortunately Corvallis and city water management policy is already moving to be in line with many of the recommendations made by this report. One such project, done in conjunction with the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition, is the Three Waters Project at the South First Alternative Co-Op.
Set to finish next month, the project is an ambitious plan that serves as a demonstration that “businesses and residences can reduce tap water use, plus wastewater and stormwater discharge into municipal systems by 50 percent while maintaining current standards of living, health, and convenience.”
In addition to projects like this, the city is challenging residents to take the “shorter shower challenge” and reduce their showers to just six minutes, down from an average of eight. The average showerhead sprays out an amazing 2.5 gallons a minute, making a 10-minute shower a 25-gallon affair.
By reducing showers to six minutes and using low-flow, high-pressure faucets, Corvallis residents can reduce their personal water usage by hundreds to thousands of gallons a year, which would result in tens of millions of gallons of water saved by the city collectively.
Water conservation is also important to OSU, as an institution the university is working to do its part to reduce the amount of water that it uses and to improve local water resources through aggressive stormwater management.
While Corvallis is at the forefront of sustainable water management, there is more that can be done. The conference participants concluded that “stewardship requires balancing the needs of humankind and the needs of nature through the protection of ecosystems.” However, without a global design framework, they fear that fragmented decision-making and persistent maladaptive approaches to water management will merely make the situation worse.
By William Tatum