- Jen Isabel Friend
Water Needs You ~ Here's How to Help
Updated: Mar 22
It’s Ride-or-Die Time for the Source of Life
The Trump EPA is dismantling the Clean Water Act.
This is most serious threat to our nation’s environmental law in its history. Consequences would be dire.
So YOU are needed NOW more than EVER.
Be a voice for the waters, a guardian, an activist.
So these is the tasks:
Reclaiming water as a commons (instead of a commodity)
Restoring a respectful relationship with water (instead of privatizing it)
This means, on an international level, rejecting market-based globalization.
Competition, unlimited growth and private ownership must be replaced by cooperation, sustainability and public stewardship.
As Gandhi once said “the earth has enough for the needs of all but not the greed of a few“.
Here’s where it started going off the tracks:
We forgot that the waters in our bodies are not separate from the waters in nature. The water inside us is the same as the water outside us. It’s only in forgetting that simple truth that we have gotten ourselves mired into the ecological mess we’re in. But remembering this can turn our everyday existence into something beautiful.
"Water is more important than the house you live in. More important than the car you drive. More important than your to-do list. And we can do miraculous things when we partner with water to heal the Earth." ~Cheryl Angel, Sioux water protector
Where do we start?
This is a global issue, but we can make the most impact on a local level. It’s time for grassroots mobilization.
Start by ensuring that that there is enough water around your home. Care for your own watershed. Get to know your watershed. What’s it called? How old is it? Where are the borders? Where are the Springs?
Just the way that we know our address, we should all know our watershed.
Start asking questions. Where does your drinking water come from? Where does it’s waste go? It’s difficult to preserve and protect what we don’t know. Support programs like caringforourwatersheds.com that engage students in local watershed activism.
The solution is simple:
Return the water to its natural cycle.
Here are a few simple way you can help
Irrigate your land with rainwater.
Dig water retention ponds - holes where water can pool up and seep in.
Never pour chemicals down the drain.
Grow hardy plants that don’t need much water.
If your local climate can’t keep a lawn green, don’t have one.
Use toilets with two button options. Or even better, switch to composting toilets! When you need to pee, water thirsty tree.
You can even do like my grandmother does, and wash dishes over a tub so that you can water your garden with it.
We live in a disconnected world but we are all very much part of a watershed, whether we realize it or not.
Consider your Water Footprint
One of the main ways that arid regions around the world mitigate their lack of water is by importing “virtual water.” It’s the water used to produce goods that are then exported. It’s "virtual" because there’s no water left in the product, but water was used and lost in the production process.
For example, it takes one gallon of water to grow one single almond. 400 gallons for a pound of rice. 650 gallons for a pound of cheese. 1300 gallons for a small steak.
And get this: It takes 37 gallons of water to produce one cup of coffee! That’s 10 tons of water for 1 pound of coffee. And if you like little sugar in your cuppa Joe, know that it takes 50 cups of water for every teaspoon of sugar.
So if we massively ship water out of a wet area, the ecosystem is disrupted, habitat damaged, bio diversity reduced, and aquifers dried. That water rich area we export from becomes desertified. The arid area that imports virtual water, will simply consume the water and send it back to the ocean via sewers, thus remaining a desert. So, where one desert region existed before, now there are two.
Some countries are being drained dry as they’re forced to use all their water on monoculture crop exports. So be a conscious consumer, vote with your dollars. Be aware of how water intensive the products you buy are, and opt for local options instead.
"Whenever you buy a T-shirt made of Pakistani cotton, eat Thai rice, or drink coffee from Central America, you are influencing the hydrology of those regions, you are taking a share of the Indus River, the Mekong River or the Costa Rican rains." ~Fred Pearce
Considering it takes a full gallon of water to grow a single almond, and most the almonds we consume are grown in California, which is already so dry it imports most of its water, then maybe don’t drink so much almond milk. We can have more of an impact than we realize, as consumers.
So, we are all savvy healthy folks and we read nutrition labels of our food, right? Well I think it’s time those also include how much water it took to grow and process the food, too. As the world's rivers run dry, it matters. As a privileged American, I can consume 100 times my own weight in water every day. Switching to a local CSA farm share for most of my food and only buying clothes that are organic or secondhand has made a big difference in my water footprint. And when I do buy something imported (who can resist a hot coffee every now and then?) I try to make sure it’s been sustainably grown, ideally on permaculture farms, which have GREAT water conservation practices.
When you think of an activist you might conjure up images of people holding banners, chaining themselves to trees or living in tents as part of Occupy. Sure that’s a kind of activism, but many activists engage differently. To me, activism just means using your influence to change something that needs to be changed. And you do that all the time, right?
As Anne Frank said, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
Here’s the main key to being an effective activist… Consider whoever needs to be convinced to make a change – sometimes local landowners, but most often elected officials. We’re all more likely to do something if someone we know and respect asks us to do it. Right? Well, elected officials are the same way; if they get to know and respect you they are more likely to act on your behalf! So build relationships. As with everything in life, networking goes a long way.
You can go to commoncause.org to find out who your representatives are. Perhaps one of the reasons why corporate lobbyists hold so much sway in congress is because we the people have failed to engage, rally, and leverage the sway we do have.
These representatives should feel beholden to you as a constituent, so use that leverage to speak with them. You could write a personal letter, attend their office hours (usually at a public place in the district), introduce yourself at a community event, schedule a meeting at their office, or (if you think they’re doing a good job) go to their fundraiser or volunteer on their election campaign. Whatever you do, get to know them and let them know what you care about!
As Ghandi said, “the difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.” And this is certainly true of water.
Attend local city hall meetings. If your town is spraying parks with pesticides, that affects the watershed, and you can add your voice to the chorus. If your city’s contract with Suez or Veolia is up for renewal, add your voice to the chorus of people asking to cancel the contract and return to public management of water. If your city could consider entering into a Public-Public partnership with the water infrastructure of a town in a developing country, make sure to let them know what a great idea that would be!
Get involved with the meetings of your state’s Water Conservation Board, usually a division of the Department of Natural Resources.
Find out if there’s a local watershed association you can volunteer at. Even if there isn’t, get a group of friends together, and treat them to pizza and beer after a day of cleaning up litter by the local river. Make a game of it, whoever fills the most trash bags wins a prize!
You could invite your friends and family over and have a screening of a documentary like Blue Gold or Flow or Tapped or Last Call at the Oasis. Make popcorn, turn it into a fun movie night.
You can host a fundraiser. It’s a fun excuse to throw a party! I LOVE hosting fundraisers, it brings the community together under the umbrella of altruism and hedonism together, and that’s a great combo. We have amazing DJs, silent auctions, games and dancing. And the whole time, people are being educated about something meaningful and feel like they’re making an impact.
What do you already do? Do it for water!
Doesn’t matter who you are, what skills you have, or even if you feel you have nothing to offer.
Journalists, copywriters, hobby writers, travel writers, we need you. Present these stories to the world. Be a global communicator to help developing countries and underserved communities get clean water, by bringing the problem out of the shadows and into the public eye. Grantwriters, we really need you!
Lawyers, social workers, we need you. Help enact policies to make water accessible, engage in lawsuits against those who pollute or preclude access to water. Social workers, you can be a liaison between communities and organizations that provide clean water access.
Inventors, engineers, we need you. Develop water infrastructure that serves people and planet. A staggering 46 billion litres of drinking water are lost globally every day because of leaky infrastructure, especially in the developing world. In Montreal alone, they lose 40% of their water to leakage. It’s time to redesign and overhaul the outdated systems. Civil engineers, contractors, we need you.
You social media people, we need you! Too many “influencers” just use their reputation to get free shit and stoke the vanity of their ego. But in this strange technological age, being an influencer is a form of leadership, and we need you to rise to the sacred responsibility that entails. Even if you only have a few hundred followers, that’s a few hundred people that you can reach, you can teach!
We need the community to speak. Because every voice is important. Not everyone will resonate with he way I share the message, but they may resonate with the way you share it, your voice, your heart. That is how you become a blessing.
What it means to be a Water Guardian
Here’s the most important part of making a difference: Whatever you decide to do, do it with heart and DON’T DO IT ALONE!
Doing it by yourself is not very effective, and it’s not fun either. Activism can be lots of fun, and it can be a great way to connect with other people and build community. So find some like minded folks who are already working in water activism, or who would like to! It’s about making alliances, bringing people together over water.
And I’m sorry (not sorry) but it’s not enough to just repost links on Facebook. That makes us feel engaged, but it’s empty.
Facebook is an echo chamber, you will be preaching to the choir.
What really touches peoples hearts and changes peoples minds is direct involvement, personal experience, and heartfelt conversations. Take someone you love to a local spring to collect fresh drinking water. Let them feel the incredible vivacity and connection that comes from making your blood of water that was deep in the earth only a few minutes ago. That is a profound experience.
You cannot ignore your watershed when you feel it in your veins like that. And honestly I think this is the most important and impactful thing we can do as water activists and water guardians is to reclaim sovereignty over our own body waters. We must begin sourcing our water locally, from the Earth, as nature intended.
When we pay a corporation for our water, we are paying for our own bloodstream. Same if we are paying the government for our bloodstream through municipal water.
It’s time to sidestep that slavelike paradigm and re-establish the primacy of water’s true source, the earth, the watershed, the hydrological cycle. These are sacred, and we are a part of that sacredness. This is an ancient communion, and it’s time to rekindle that.
This is the most powerful action we can take. Remember, you can find a local spring at findaspring.com and harvest your own drinking water directly from the womb of Mother Earth.
There are lessons to be learned from water. It’s Nature‘s gift, which can teach us how to live in harmony with the earth and in peace with one another.
Let’s become more than just American. Let’s become more human. Let’s become more Earthling. Let’s become people who act like we are made of 99% water molecules, because we are. Let’s remember we are watery beings on a watery planet.
What kind of blessing will you be?
It starts with prayers. It starts with pledge. It starts with the heart.
I challenge you to change your relationship to water so you can become a force working in harmony and in partnership with life.
Because that’s what water does all by herself — she stewards life. Can you imagine what the world would look like if we partnered with the source of life, in becoming stewards and guardians of life? After all, we are beings made of water!
Water is life, but she is dying on this planet and she’s asking you to commit yourself to life. Our mother is in pain and she needs us. She needs us to get up off our comfortable couches. There is work to be done. This is what we are here for. Because life is empty without service. But we get busy being comfortable. We feel we deserve to be comfortable, because life is hard. But then we grow discontent because our soul longs for meaning. We are here to be of service. We find meaning in giving.
You don’t even realize how powerful you can be until you give selflessly.
As Ghandi said, "the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Here are a few GREAT places to support:
Here are some great resources to learn more about the water crisis:
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