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7 Reasons Why Clean Water Is Important in Your Home & Business
Know Your Water Source
While it might sound basic, knowing the source of your water is a great first step in providing clean water to any home or business. This little bit of information empowers the occupants with the knowledge necessary to make key decisions in treating their water. A quick and easy way to determine the source is to look at a utility bill. A utility bill will frequently break down the services provided to a home or business.
Another way to determine a water source for a home or business owner would be the property disclosure section of a real estate contract. In many states within the U.S., it is a requirement to disclose whether the property utilizes a public water system or a private well. For renters, the landlord or property management company should be able to answer any questions regarding the water source.
Clean water saves lives
Any conflict or emergency that drives people from their homes and forces them to gather in places with no safe drinking water or sanitation systems creates conditions that are ripe for water-borne diseases.
Cholera is one of the most severe diseases: When about a million Rwandans fled violence to eastern Congo in 1994, there were as many as 60,000 (some estimate 80,000) cases of cholera. Within about a month, more than 40,000 people died. In Yemen, more than six years of conflict has so severely damaged water systems that the country has endured a multi-year cholera epidemic that has killed thousands.
Oxfam helps reduce the threat of diseases in emergencies by providing clean water. With partners, we treat local water sources, or bring water to areas hosting refugees and displaced people by truck, store it in tanks and bladders, and set up pipes and taps to dispense it. We dig and repair wells, and train people to maintain them, so that after the emergency passes communities have a safe source of water.
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Clean Water Promotes Good Hygiene
Oxfam works with engineers to repair municipal water systems damaged in conflicts and earthquakes. After bombings in the Gaza Strip damaged water desalination plants in 2020, for example, Oxfam provided the chemicals needed to get them up and running. We also build systems to purify water where needed.
After air strikes damaged municipal water systems in northern Gaza in May 2021, Oxfam helped rebuild the sanitation system in Beit Lahia. Hosam Salem/Oxfam
Promoting good hygiene is also essential, especially during a pandemic. Oxfam partners train community leaders to encourage handwashing at critical moments. We provide hygiene kits with soap, water purification tablets, and other necessities that help people displaced by emergencies keep clean and avoid cholera outbreaks and COVID-19.
Safe sanitation is also crucial. Oxfam helps install latrines where people need them and ensures they are sited appropriately for women to access safely (installing solar lights if needed). Oxfam helped build about 8,000 latrines in the months following the 2015 earthquake in Nepal. After more than 800,000 Rohingya people fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh in 2017, Oxfam worked with the UN and people seeking refuge in camps to build a massive sewage treatment plant that processes waste from 150,000 people.
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Clean water fights poverty
The lack of clean water kills people every day, and water-borne diseases and parasites are a significant hardship . Children under 5 are the most vulnerable. Diarrheal diseases are among the most common causes of mortality for children under 5, and can be easily prevented with clean water, decent sanitation, basic hygiene, and nutritious food.
A convenient source of water can also be a major improvement in the lives of women and girls, who are frequently tasked with carrying water home many times per day. Many girls and young women are deprived an education, just to carry water. This relegates them to an early marriage and limits their prospects of employment.
Water for livestock and growing food
Water is becoming more and more scarce in some parts of the world due to climate change. For example, in Central America’s Dry Corridor, an arid zone cutting across five countries, farmers are struggling to grow enough food to survive. In 2019, Oxfam provided cash and food aid to communities in Guatemala’s southern Chiquimula region at a time when farmers had not seen any consistent rain for four years.
Providing proper nourishment
There is no set standard for the amount of water we are supposed to consume on a daily basis, but there are several different sets of recommendations that exist.
As far as other nutritional benefits of clean drinking water are concerned, those benefits are far-reaching.
When we lack water, our body reacts instantly. It doesn’t take very long to start to suffer from even mild forms of dehydration, and the effects of it are not only physical, but mental.
In our homes, the water we cook with comes from the same source as our drinking water. Safe drinking water means more than just what we put in our glasses – it also deals with what we put on our stoves or in our ovens. Especially these days, with people cooking at home more than they have in the recent past, the importance of clean water is only heightened because of this approach to eating.
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Public water systems are required to test their water regularly and disclose the results to the public. Often these reports will be posted on the utility website. Another option is you can search on the EPA’s Ground Water and Drinking Water website. For those who utilize a public water supply, it is important to understand that water can be contaminated after it leaves the treatment facility. It is not safe to assume water is clean because it comes from a treatment facility.
Install high-efficiency appliances.
Much like toilets, modern washing machines, dishwashers, and other water-dependent appliances use much less water than the older models. If it’s been a long time since you’ve installed or replaced the dishwasher in the breakroom, conder this. It may be time to invest in a high-efficiency model.
Look for Energy Star or Water Sense labeled products. These products are certified to use at least 20% less water than conventional models. They’re guaranteed to perform as well or better.
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