Water conservation an important Great Lakes issue

Water conservation can be a hard sell in the Great Lakes region.

After all, why do we need to conserve water in a region that contains 20 percent of the world’s fresh surface water?

Here’s one reason: The latest studies suggest that global warming could cause Great Lakes water levels to drop five feet by the year 2100.

Losing that much water from the Great Lakes would be devastating to nearshore ecosystems, fish and wildlife populations, recreational boating and the commercial shipping industry.

Conserving water, and using water more efficiently, is an important step we can all take now to help the Great Lakes adapt to global warming. Per capita daily water consumption in the U.S. is double the global average, according to United Nations data.

What’s really disturbing about America’s water gluttony is that 30-80 percent of all the water used for residential purposes is sprayed on lawns and gardens, according to officials at the Chicago-based Alliance for Water Efficiency. That’s just foolish.

The good news is that per capita water use in the U.S. has dropped nearly 30 percent since 1975, according to a recent report by the Pacific Institute. But that’s no reason to become complacent.

Conflicts over water are already intensifying in the southwest and southeast United States; those battles will only worsen in the coming years as the planet warms. Conflicts over water also are popping up in the Great Lakes and will intensify in the coming years.

There is a scripture verse that says: For those who have been given much, much will be demanded. That’s an important message for those of us fortunate enough to live in the Great Lakes basin.

Because we live in the center of the freshwater universe, we should lead the way in water conservation. The sprawling Great Lakes ecosystem, and future generations who rely on these lakes for sustenance, will be the beneficiaries of all we do now to reduce our water use.

Visit the Alliance for Water Efficiency’s Web site to learn much more about water conservation.

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