WALKING FOR WATER by award-winning (and thought-provoking) children’s author Nancy Bo Flood

How far do you walk when you need a drink of water? Or when you want to take a shower, brush your teeth, wash your face? For most of us, we only need to walk to the bathroom.

What if you had to walk a MILE for that glass of cold wonderful water… and when you finally got it, the water was warm, muddy, and with weird things floating in it?  Yuck!

Over a billion people on our earth spend most of their day walking for water.  Some, especially girls, may spend their entire life walking for water.

              Add up all the miles women and children in South Africa walk

                            For water.

                                          Every day.

              Sixteen trips to the moon and back,

                            Every day,

                                          For water.

In the United States most of us use over 100 gallons of water in our home each day.  Water weighs a lot, over eight pounds per gallon. Imagine carrying 800 pounds for a day’s worth of water!

But we need water. We are water. Over 70% of our bodies and our brains are—water! Water is life. Not only to keep our brains alive, but also our world, maybe even other planets in this universe.

We have the same amount of water here on earth that was here in prehistoric times. If we pollute it, if we waste it, we are in trouble. The biggest “users-consumers” of water are agriculture (growing food) and mining and manufacturing (digging resources and producing things, to sell food and “stuff”). Our earth is running out of fresh clean water. Here in the United States, states are fighting over water.

What can we do to protect this limited resource? 

Use less water every day.

How? First, and right at home, turn OFF the faucet. When you brush your teeth, wash dishes, even when showering, don’t let the water keep running. Turn off the faucet after you begin to wash or brush—and don’t turn it back on until you are ready to finish. You will save gallons of water every day. Don’t believe me? Put a pan or bucket in the shower and see how many gallons of water pour down needlessly while you are scrubbing. 

Another way to conserve water? Eat more plants and less meat. Why? Because it takes a LOT of water to “grow” meat. How much water does it take to make a hamburger? Take a guess. 100 gallons of water? Nope. Try 4,000 to 18,000 gallons for one thick, juicy hamburger—an entire swimming pool of water! You need to feed and water a cow, transport the cow to the butcher, process the meat, ship it to a store, cook it, and then clean up the kitchen. Imagine walking for 18,000 gallons of water! And you would need to do it again tomorrow if you wanted a pepperoni pizza or chicken nuggets. You would soon be dead. Try a veggie burger instead. It takes a lot less water to grow vegetables, and they taste pretty good!

A third way to help? Buy less stuff. Recycle. Re-use.

I’ve described  more ways to conserve water in my book Water Runs Through This Book.  I’ve also described unusual facts about water as well as many more ways we need water—relaxing by a mountain lake, rafting down a roaring river, or diving into a cold pool on a hot day.

There is an online Water Footprint Calculator. Compute your daily water use. I promise you will be surprised.  

Water is life. Conserving it is urgent. Please spread the water word. And do your part.

Nancy Bo Flood is the author of several books for children, include Cowboy Up! Riding the Navajo Rodeo, which was honored as a 2014 NCTE Notable Poetry Bool and a 2013 California Reading Association Eureka! Nonfiction honor book. Nancy is also a columnist for Bookology, a children’s literature magazine. Learn more at www.nancyboflood.com.

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