Over 14 Million People in Texas Had No Drinking Water After the Winter Storm

Caroline de Braganza

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(Image by Jasmin Sessler from Pixabay)

As we celebrate World Water Day today, 22 March, an event that has taken place each year since 1992, we’d do well to remember how reliant we are on this precious resource .

This year’s theme is “Valuing Water”.

According to the United Nations, "The value of water is about much more than its price."

On 20 February CBS news reported that millions were still without water in Texas after the winter storm led to massive power outages. Water systems couldn’t pump water, and the freezing temperatures added further complications of pipes freezing or bursting.

Plumber were in high demand and short supply. Lower-income families, elderly folks, under-insured and the disabled in Central Texas were hit the hardest.

"When the well is dry, we learn the worth of water."-Benjamin Franklin.

That was a wake-up call to how reliant we are on water. We don’t give it a second thought—open the tap and pour.

How would you feel if you had no access to safe water resources at all?

That’s a way of life for 2.2 billion people across the globe, and the goal of World Water Day is to raise awareness.

This annual event is in line with Sustainable Development Goal No. 6 (SDG-6) which aims to achieve water and sanitation for everyone by 2030.

Can you imagine a world without water?

Planet Earth would be as barren of life as Mars if not for this precious commodity. No plants, no trees, no animals of the land and seas—and no us.

We marvel at the magnificence of our rivers, lakes, natural springs and waterfalls, but lack of conservation and misuse of water is putting a great strain on the supply of freshwater.

How privileged the few who have access to life's gold

Many people in developed countries are unaware of the daily struggle of billions whose lives are at risk for lack of water.

In our modern world, we open the tap, water comes out—woohoo! Turn on the hose to water the garden, fill our swimming pool, throw our laundry into a washing machine, invest in a dishwasher—until one day the taps will run dry.

As I drink my first glass of water when I wake, I pray for the millions of people across the world who do not have access to drinking water. Nor can they wash their hands, let alone their bodies, or go to the toilet in the way we interpret the term; they practice open defecation.

“Instead of comparing our lot with that of those who are more fortunate than we are, we should compare it with the lot of the great majority of our fellow men. It then appears we are among the privileged.”—Helen Keller.

The latest United Nations Progress report on SDG-6, published I March 2021 states:

“Even before COVID-19 struck, the world was off track to meet the goal of ensuring water and sanitation for all by 2030. As you will see in this summary progress report, billions of people worldwide still live without safely managed drinking water and sanitation, even though both services have long been defined as human rights. Many water sources are drying up, becoming more polluted, or both.”

You can access the full report here

A *report in June 2019 by UNICEF/WHO Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) stated:

“Some 2.2 billion people around the world do not have safely managed drinking water services, 4.2 billion people do not have safely managed sanitation services, and 3 billion lack basic handwashing facilities.”
“Every year, 297 000 children under 5 years die because of diarrhoea linked to inadequate WASH (acronym for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene). Poor sanitation and contaminated water are also linked to transmission of diseases such as cholera, dysentery, hepatitis A, and typhoid.”

Can you imagine not being able to wash your hands during the Covid-19 pandemic?

*Note: Up-dated statistics will only be available in August 2021.

Our planet is 70% water

But did you know two-thirds of our body comprises water?

  • Our brain is 80%
  • Muscles and heart are 75%
  • Blood is 83%
  • Lungs are 90%
  • Skin is 64%
  • Our bones are 30%

Our collective existence on our precious planet depends on what water can give us.

Ecosystems that provide water are disappearing. Water-intensive industry, agriculture and energy generation are growing to meet the needs of an expanding population. Climate change is making water more scarce and unpredictable, with floods and droughts displacing millions of people.

As things stand, it’s unlikely we’ll meet the goal of 2030 unless governments, business and civil society work together to find solutions.

Innovation in Kenya—solarization of village borehole

What can we do as individuals to make every drop count?

  • Don’t bath. Take a shower of 5 minutes or less. According to this research, on average, an individual might waste 17 gallons of water per shower.
  • The beef industry consumes unjustifiable amounts of freshwater. By cutting out meat and dairy, or consuming less, you can reduce your water footprint far more than any other way.
  • Install a water-saving toilet flush system, if you’re lucky enough to have a can! You’ll save up to 184 gallons a year.
  • Turn off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth, washing your hands, or shaving. You’ll save 5 gallons a day.
  • Don’t wash clothes and utensils under a running tap.
  • Wait for a full load before using your washing machine.

When you have had first-hand experience of being without water, as Texans did in February, you can better appreciate that we cannot live without it.

Final thoughts

How privileged we are to have access to life’s gold. Water is precious—let’s appreciate its value.

Our lives depend on it.

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Published essayist. Follow me for local news that impacts our lives, plus stories on public and mental health. Through writing, I also share my passion for music, politics, our environment and social justice, and hope you find value in my words.

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