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The Huge Financial Ramifications of Wasting Water


Have you ever considered the possibility that wasting water isn't just harmful to the planet, but also to your bank account? What about the bigger picture? Is there a possibility that it might be doing damage to the overall economy for your city, region or state? As it turns out, there are huge financial ramifications that happen as a direct result of wasting water. If you've never thought of water as a hot commodity that is directly tied to billions of dollars worth of cash, think again. Here, you can learn how wasting water impacts not only your wallet, but also the wallets of so many others.

Water Shortages and the Changing Climate

Water is directly tied to the way the climate behaves. When there is less water, the temperature has a habit of going up. Over time, that means that even the temperature of the ground is warmer and this can have a dramatic impact on weather patterns. Considering the fact that almost everybody is dealing with global warming, these problems are only exacerbated by the lack of water. By the same token, some areas are getting far too much water as a direct result of global warming and those ever-changing weather patterns. In short, the amount of water that is typically present in any given geographic area is directly tied to the way that the climate, and therefore the weather, behaves in that particular region. All of this has direct financial ramifications. Who wants to live or work in a town where there is virtually no water and the sun bakes everything in sight all day long? At the same time, floods and other storm damage caused by the changing climate can do a tremendous amount of financial damage to entire regions in a matter of only a few minutes.

Problems With Food Production

There is perhaps an even bigger issue here. When there isn't enough water, there are multiple problems with ensuring that a particular region gets enough food. If you really want to take things a step further, it isn't just that region that can be affected, either. In reality, it can create a shortage in the amount of food that is available for people to eat all over the world. In places that used to have plentiful sources of water which are now more or less bone dry, it is almost impossible to plant crops. It simply isn't cost-effective to do so. Most farmers struggle to make a living as it is. Trying to plant crops in an area where there isn't enough water to ensure their successful growth is like playing Russian roulette. When you're talking about someone's livelihood, it's not enough to simply take a gamble and hope for the best. As a result, most farming operations that existed in these types of regions have ceased producing any crops whatsoever.

The Trickle-Down Effect

This has a trickle-down effect that means that there isn't just less food for that particular area, but for everyone else as well. It's one of the reasons that you will often see fewer products in stores. If you love avocados, you might remember that they became increasingly hard to find a few years ago as a direct result of the ongoing drought in California. If you could find them, they were prohibitively expensive. What would have previously been a $0.99 avocado suddenly increased to $3, $4 or even $5 for that same product. There's a very big difference between spending $4 to purchase four avocados and spending $15 or $20 to get the same amount. As a result, people stopped buying them and the few farmers who had stuck their necks out to produce them ended up going bankrupt because nobody was buying their product. This proves that water shortage issues and those issues associated with wasting water are directly tied to economics. More importantly, it shows that it has widespread ramifications. It's almost never something that's contained to a particular town or region. Instead, it's something that practically everyone feels acutely, whether they have any direct ties with that particular issue or not.

A Bigger Problem Than You Think

There's also another issue associated with wasting water. When countries that are leading producers of products that other large countries such as the United States consume, it can become difficult or even impossible for them to produce those products. This in turn means that prices go up and more product shortages occur. This too can have huge ramifications for people in the affected countries, but it can also cause tensions to rise to a point where fighting occurs. This is especially true when products that are being used are produced in third world countries where tensions are already running high. All it takes is one thing to tip the scales and this could definitely be that thing that finally does it. You may not think about water shortages or even wasting water and financial ramifications that are related to world peace, but all of these things are tied together. The truth is, water has become such a hot commodity that people are indeed willing to go to war for it. It's something that people have to have in order to live. It's also a necessity for the manufacturing process in a number of cases. As a result, people have a tendency to be willing to go to whatever lengths they need to go to in order to secure their own rights to water. The more scarce it becomes, the more people are willing to do things that they might not have been willing to do before.

The Cost of Making Water Safe

People have a tendency to waste water because they think that it's something that will always be there. Obviously, that's not true. Unfortunately, it's the mindset that many individuals have. In reality, there's not nearly enough water to go around and the situation is getting worse on a daily basis. To make matters worse, almost every municipality is forced to treat the water that people living and working there drink. This is in some ways tied to wasting water because it often forces these same municipalities to utilize water from other sources that may not be ideal. In some cases, they have to transport water in large underground pipes for miles and miles so that people in that particular community have drinking water. This water also has to be treated. Despite the fact that almost every municipality has a water treatment center, these types of centers are extremely expensive to operate. Not every municipality has the funds necessary to keep these types of treatment facilities up and running in the condition that they should be. As a result, problems with drinking water can and do occur. One only has to recall the debacle with the drinking water in Flint, Michigan that happened a few years ago in order to understand the ramifications of wasting water. The city essentially became financially unable to maintain its water treatment plant and people were left with water that they couldn't even use to bathe, much less drink. While Flint, Michigan certainly isn't the only example of this type of thing happening, they are probably the one that immediately comes to mind for most people.

Economic Slowdown in Many Communities

Another issue related to the financial ramifications of wasting water involves the economic slowdown that is occurring in communities across the country as a direct result of it. This is largely because companies are starting to look at local water supplies more and more before they make the decision to open a new business in any municipality. If a particular community tends to have a lot of problems with their water supply system, that company may decide to explore other areas as opposed to doing business there. Obviously, wasting water only serves to make the problem worse than it already is. This can have tremendous financial ramifications for any community, but it's even more severe in smaller communities that genuinely need every dollar that they can get. If they can't secure new businesses or keep healthy businesses operating in the area, the local economy will slowly die. It has happened in towns across the country time and time again and it continues to happen, largely because it finally gets to a point where there is essentially no way that new businesses will come into the area. The lack of a vibrant local economy means that people start to move away, leaving fewer people to support the existing businesses that are still left. Eventually, one business after another starts to close and everyone moves away. As a result, there are ramifications for the local school system, hospitals and virtually anything and everything in between.

It All Comes Down to the Money

Virtually everything comes down to the issue of money. Sooner or later, everything is in one way or another tied to the amount of money that can be made or lost by taking a particular action or in some cases, refraining from taking action. People that don't believe that wasting water involves financial ramifications are kidding themselves. In fact, it has been estimated that the global economy loses approximately $260 billion every single year as the direct result of lost job opportunities related to water that is either wasted, or the inability to gain access to water in the first place. That is a significant sum of money and it's almost frightening to think that this amount is lost on an annual basis because of something that might well have been prevented if people were more careful with the way that they utilize water. Perhaps the bigger problem is that many individuals simply don't see water as a commodity that can be bought and sold. Instead, they have a tendency to take it for granted. People look at water and think that it will always be there. Those who have never had to deal with it directly don't tend to think about the possibility of it not being available one day. Instead, they're used to turning on their taps and having clean water run out and they use it as if it is available in infinite quantities. Unfortunately, everyone else is up paying the price for those who act like this and the price is a steep one, indeed.

Saving Water Starts in the Home

Make no mistake about it, you're paying a significant price for wasting water in your own home, too. Unless you have a well, you have to pay a fee for your water usage every month. You're only allowed a certain amount and if you go over that amount, you have to pay more money. Stop and think about how much water you might potentially be wasting by running the tap while you brush your teeth, wait for the water to warm up for a shower, or do the dishes. Countless numbers of gallons might be running down the drain and you're paying for all of it. It might not be on a global scale, but it's definitely something that you feel in your pocket book. So, what if you have a well and you don't need to rely on city water? Make no mistake about it, it's still not free. You have to pay for the upkeep of that well and if you waste the water and the well should run dry, you're then forced to either go on city water or in some cases, drill an entirely new well because going on city water is not an option. If the well has dried up and there's not another water source nearby, you could be facing the very real possibility of being forced to vacate your home because you don't have access to clean water. In a matter of a few days, the thing that you once took for granted is suddenly out of reach and you can't function without it. That doesn't leave you with many options and it is enough to cause financial ruin in the process. These are all things that you should think about the next time you turn on your tap. Water conservation is everyone’s job. It all comes down to every person doing their part. Otherwise, everyone will be forced to pay the cost.

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Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

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