What is the true cost of the water we use everyday?
As the short video above explains, much of our water usage can come from the "hidden water" that we may not even think about. Participant Media ("An Inconvenient Truth," "The Cove") created the clip in anticipation of the release of water documentary "Last Call at the Oasis."
Estimates vary, but a number of commonly used products require a surprising amount of water to produce. From Jeans and soda to bottled water and computer paper, significant quantities of water are needed to create these goods. The video notes, "Water is hidden in everything. So, start by conserving what's visible."
Around the world, access to clean water remains a challenge for millions of people. But for parts of Africa, recent research could help to improve the situation. Groundwater quantities and potential yields have been mapped across the entire continent and with proper development, could provide more drinking and irrigation water.
The research comes as experts warn that increasing water scarcity is likely to contribute to political instability in Africa and elsewhere. John Kufuor, a former president of Ghana and current head of the Sanitation and Water for All partnership, recently told Bloomberg, "People migrate to find water anywhere if there’s a scarcity situation. People have fought wars to access water."
Even the U.S. is not immune from water shortages. According to the EPA, more than 36 states are expecting "local, regional, or statewide" water shortages by next year, "even under non-drought conditions."
Experts also predict that water rates "will be slowly but constantly creeping up" in coming years, reports Reuters. U.S. water utilities already have about $330 billion in outstanding debts, representing almost 10 percent of the municipal bond market.