Water: a resource we can’t do without
Did you brush your teeth this morning or have a cup of coffee? Have you ever wondered about the processes that bring your food from the farm to the table? Do you enjoy swimming in a pool on a hot summer day? Water is all around us, and we use it in a variety of ways to not only survive, but to make our lives easier and more enjoyable. Earth is referred to as the “Blue Planet” for a reason. Over 75 percent of our planet is covered by water in the form of oceans, rivers, lakes, ice caps, and ground water. However, approximately 3 percent of all water on Earth is fresh water, with much of it locked up in glaciers and ice caps.
And it is not only humans who rely upon clean, fresh water. Animals around the globe cannot survive without this basic need. African elephants are known to migrate in search of water in the dry season, while giant otters are dependent upon fresh water rivers for their home. Gorillas don’t actually drink water, but receive their hydration through the plants that they eat. Kori bustards have a specialized beak that allows them to drink from shallow puddles of water in the arid regions where they live.
While humans and wildlife have adapted to finding and utilizing water, the amount of fresh water on Earth is a finite resource. Of the 3 percent of fresh water on Earth, the percentage that is considered useable and not locked up in ice caps and glaciers is around 1 percent. I challenge you to think about how you use water in your daily lives. From showering and cooking to washing laundry and drinking soda, we are dependent upon water. And there are many things that we can do to ensure we don’t waste a drop of this precious resource.
At Zoo Atlanta, the animals and guests need water. From flushing toilets to providing water to wildlife, we recognize our impact on the environment and strive to make a difference. With the opening of Scaly Slimy Spectacular: The Amphibian and Reptile Experience in 2015, we received LEED certification for our implementation of rainwater collection catchments, water-efficient landscaping, and low-flow plumbing. Through a program with the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, Zoo Atlanta received a Grants to Green grant that allowed us to become more water and energy efficient throughout the Zoo with the installation of water and energy-reducing measures. Our efforts were recognized in 2015 by the Atlanta Better Business Challenge as a top performer for reducing our water consumption by 20 percent.
While these are broad-scale initiatives to conserve water, Zoo Atlanta team members also make small adjustments on a daily basis that create a larger impact. And these are all things that Zoo Members and guests can also do in their daily lives. For example, turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth or lathering your hands with soap; install a low-flow shower head; and learn landscaping tips that will reduce water consumption. Consider Meatless Mondays to globally reduce the amount of water it takes to produce one hamburger. Make a list of all the ways that you use water in a given day, and find opportunities to be more water savvy.
At the end of the day, we get the privilege to share this beautiful Blue Planet with some amazing wildlife and breathtaking wild places. Let’s do our part to have a positive impact on something that we just cannot live without. To learn more about water-saving tips, visit https://wateruseitwisely.com/100-ways-to-conserve/.
Manager of School and Family Programs