The New York City water system is one of the most advanced and extensive in the world, which in our opinion also makes it one of the coolest. Utilizing three lakes, nineteen reservoirs and hundreds of miles of aqueducts in upstate New York, as a city, we can store roughly 555 billion gallons of water at a time. That’s about 832,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools worth!
While our water system may be vast, the resource itself is harder to come by than many people think. Because 98% of the Earth’s water is undrinkable seawater (and another 1.6% is inaccessible, frozen in glaciers or ice caps), it’s important to take care of the almost 1% of the world’s water we do have available to us.
Though the global population tripled over the course of the 20th century, according to the World Water Council, we increased our use of renewable water sources sixfold! As Americans, we now consume over 650,000 gallons each, annually. If everyone made efforts to conserve, just think of all the water we could save!
Storm water run-off occurs when a significant amount of water from rain or snow isn’t able to be absorbed into the ground. Instead of returning to the Earth it winds up in storm drains, and carries chemicals, pollutants and debris back into streams, lakes and oceans. It can cause some of the most pressing water quality problems in the United States, including siltation and soil erosion.
In paved urban areas the ground isn’t able to absorb the excess water as a natural part of the hydrologic system, so water run-off can happen 10 times faster. By discarding waste safely, keeping streets clean and catching rain for re-use when possible, we’re returning water to its sources as clean as possible and maintaining a healthy water cycle.
What can we do to help?
- *Keep street gutters and storm drains free of litter, leaves, waste and debris
- *Properly discard harmful substances such as oil, paint, cleaning fluids, antifreeze.
- *Repair leaking sink faucets, shower heads toilets and pumps
- *Run your dishwasher and laundry only when fully loaded
- *Consider installing a green roof the next time yours needs repair
- *Collect rainwater to nourish your indoor plants
- *Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge instead of running tap water to cool