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The role of water resources is of great importance to both humans and nature. The consumption of clean water is necessary for human health. Also, people use water for such purposes as energy production, treatment, industry, cultivation of vegetables and fruits, and navigation (the United States Environmental Protection Agency par.1). To understand the importance of the issues of drinking water quality and availability in the Southwestern United States, factors such as local climate, population changes, consumption of local and imported water, wastewater treatment, and recycling attitude have to be considered.
Today, many regions of the U.S. are having issues with water shortages. Mostly, it is caused by climate change. In the Southwestern United States, increased water evaporation may disrupt the water cycle. Today’s changes in precipitation show that the water cycle is already changing (the United States Environmental Protection Agency par. 5).
According to the United States, Environmental Protection Agency “The Colorado River system is a major source of water supply for the Southwest” (par. 7). San Diego mostly uses imported water which is brought from Northern California. Today, water supplies in Colorado River are decreasing due to droughts, fewer winter precipitation, and dry springs (Taylor et al. 324). The temperature rises and people need larger amounts of water for their health and economic activities.
California is the most densely populated state in the country, and San Diego County has the second-largest population in the state (Sanchez par. 1). The current population of the region counts about 3.3 million people which is nearly 16 times as much as the population before World War II. Rapidly growing population in the Southwestern United States puts great pressure on the limited water supply of the region (Thiros et al. 21).
Consumption of Local and Imported Water
The lack of water in the Southwestern United States causes the region to import water from far away. It has to be mentioned that importing water is very expensive and irrational in some way. Although tap water is considered to be dangerous for health due to the chlorine concentrations in it, today’s municipal tap water quality is very high. It is tested and monitored. Despite these facts, a lot of people continue to buy imported bottled water which superiority is questionable. The biggest problem connected with bottled water consumption is its harm to the environment. Karlstrom states that “The U.S. public goes through about 50 billion water bottles a year, and most of those plastic containers are not recycled” (par. 1).
Bottled water harms not only the environment. Plastic containers should be used only once. However, most of the people neglect this. Those who continue to use the containers are at risk of leaching carcinogens and hormone disruptors (Karlstrom par. 9).
Because of the lack of water in the Southwestern United States, most of the water in the region is imported. Despite the costs of the import, wastewaters are just thrown away. Wastewater treatment is a process of making unsuitable water safe for the environment again. Over the past years, communities such as Orange County, San Diego has developed wastewater treatment programs and contributed significantly to the people’s support of “toilet to tap” programs (Daniels par. 1). Today, the Orange County’s plant recycles about 70 million gallons of wastewater and puts it into groundwater basins each day. Orange County Water District spends $142 million to reach the mark of 100 million gallons per day (Daniels par. 6).
To understand the importance of the issues of drinking water quality and availability in the Southwestern United States, factors such as local climate, population changes, consumption of local and imported water, wastewater treatment, and recycling attitude have to be considered. Today, the water cycle in the Southwestern United States is disrupted due to climate changes. Most of the water in San Diego is imported from Northern California. The need for water rises with rising of the population which pressures the poor water supply of the area, and the water supplies in Colorado River are decreasing. It is happening because of droughts, fewer winter precipitation, and dry springs.
People continue to purchase expensive imported bottled water, despite the availability of high-quality local tap water. The issue is that bottled water, even being expensive, does not prove to be useful. On the contrary, plastic containers are harmful to the environment and may be dangerous for humans. It may not be logical, but expensive imported water which is used for the environment is just thrown into oceans. Today, wastewater treatment in the Southwestern United States can recycle unsuitable water and deliver it back to use. More and more people of the region support “toilet to tap” programs which are provided by San Diego’s Orange County which is aimed to provide 100 million gallons of recycled water per day.
“Climate Change Impacts.” United States Environmental Protection Agency, Web.
Daniels, Jeff. “California Drought Gives ‘Toilet to Tap’ a New Level of Attention.” CNBC, 2015, Web.
Karlstrom, Solvie. “Why Tap Water is Better Than Bottled Water.” National Geographic. 2010, Web.
Sanchez, Tatiana. “SD County Second Largest in CA, despite Slow Growth.” The San Diego Union-Tribune. 2016, Web.
Taylor, Richard, et al. “Ground Water and Climate Change.” Nature Climate Change, vol. 3, no. 4, 2013, pp. 322-329, Web.
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Thiros, Susan., et al. “Water Quality in Basin-Fill Aquifers of the Southwestern United States: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah, 1993—2009.”, 2014.