What Can I Do? About Water

“With respect to water, Canadians and Americans suffer from the same disease: We say that it is priceless, but act as if it were absurdly cheap.”

—Editorial, The Globe and Mail, 23 May 1998


Did you know you can survive about a month without food, but only five to seven days without water? Given the importance of this precious limited resource to all living things, North Americans ought to think deeply about the reality that we are among the largest consumers of water in the world.


So, what can we do to reduce our water consumption? Here are a few suggestions from the CitizenKid book One Well: The Story of Water on Earth by Rochelle Strauss. As you reflect on these ideas, remember that even a few small changes in how you use water can add up to a big difference:

  • Start a discussion with your children about the value of water. Have them imagine what would happen if there was no water when they turned on a tap. What would it be like to live without toilets, baths or showers? To have to walk 10, 30 or 60 minutes to get water? How would they use water differently? Remind them that everyday, many people around the world don’t have enough water to meet their needs.

  • Celebrate the United Nation’s International Decade for Action – Water for Life (2005–2015). The goal of this decade is to promote greater awareness of water-related issues. Work with your children to promote water awareness at home, at school, in your community and even in your city and country through water-oriented events, such as fairs, newsletters and invited speakers.

  • Encourage others to think critically about the water they use and the water they waste. Discuss and implement water conservation initiatives at home and at school. In your garden, plant drought-tolerant and/or native species, collecting water in a rain barrel and recycling house water. Install water meters and water-saving plumbing such as low-flush toilets. Talk to your children about what you are doing and why.

  • Adopt a waterway. With your family or as a class, select a local water body and research its history. How has the water been used over the years? Has the flow of water changed (or been changed)? What issues threaten it? Prepare a newsletter on your findings and circulate it throughout your school and community. Remind readers that we all need to work together to protect local water systems.

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