While most Temple University students don’t worry about having clean water, they should be mindful of conserving water because water shortages will be a problem as climate change worsens.
Philadelphia County declared a drought watch on Aug. 31 after a period of abnormally dry weather, prompting the Philadelphia Water Department to advise that residents reduce their water usage by up to 10 percent. Meanwhile, Americans consume massive quantities of water, and each Philadelphia resident uses an average of 101.5 gallons per day, according to the Philadelphia Water Department.
The university implemented various measures to reduce water waste on campus, like the use of recycled water in Morgan Hall and low-flow fixtures across campus. However, these conservation efforts only exist on campus, as areas off campus don’t fall under Temple’s authority.
Students living in North Central must limit their usage to help conserve water off campus because the university cannot. It’s a student’s responsibility to ensure they are using water sustainably because as climate change worsens, so do severe weather conditions.
“Water conservation is not as big of an issue as I think it should be,” said Julian Ortiz, a senior political science major who lives off campus at 10th and Diamond Streets. “I personally try to limit my water use, like taking less time in the shower.”
Students can conserve water by only running loads of wash if laundry machines are full, turning water off when brushing their teeth and saving electricity, as 65 percent of the electricity in the U.S. comes from water-cooled power plants, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit organization that supports sustainability efforts.
“One of the biggest issues in terms of conserving water that people can do is look for leaks, because that can waste tons of water,” said Brian Rademaekers, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia Water Department.
Climate change is a complicated issue that can’t be solved only by conserving water, but it still plays a big role in combatting it.
Saving water helps to lower an individual’s carbon footprint because it reduces greenhouse gas emissions used in water treatment, which helps to slow climate change, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Conserving water also keeps lakes and reservoirs full to ensure the safety of countless species, while securing a clean and constant supply for our communities.
“The two things you need to survive are water and food, and you have no food without water,” said Fletcher Chmara-Huff, a geography and urban studies professor and the producer of Temple’s Water Week, a week organized around World Water Day.
Climate change impacts water availability, and without conserving water, communities could run out.
Due to climate change, dangerous weather events are becoming increasingly frequent, making water conservation more crucial. Floods, hurricanes and dry spells, like Philadelphia’s recent conditions, will only become more frequent, which can leave people without clean water or pollute an area’s supply.
For example, North Philadelphia faced severe flooding, caused by a burst water main near Fourth and Berks Streets on June 23, highlighting the ability of flooding to cut water supplies off entirely. Lack of available water can seriously impact communities causing crops to die, affecting the local food supply, and drying lakes and reservoirs, potentially causing irreversible damage to local ecosystems.
Dry soil allows floods to spread because the ground can’t absorb water quickly enough to stop flooding. However, if more students prioritize water conservation, hazardous weather conditions can be kept under control.
Students can help reduce water scarcity by adopting conservation efforts. Temple students need to do their part to help solve this issue to help ensure that clean, accessible water is a part of our future.