October 21 Campaign Urges Citizens to Imagine Impact

Back in December 2019, most Americans couldn’t imagine that anything as horrible as COVID-19 happening here in these modern times. The same naivety applies to the concept of losing access to water. This is why organizers of the 6th Annual Imagine a Day Without Water have developed a campaign for October 21 to educate and remind Americans how water is essential, invaluable, and needs attention and infrastructure investment.

Going without

The average American uses 80 to 100 gallons of water each day. While some SoCal residents stay below or within this daily use average, for example, Los Angeles (78), Glendale (89), San Diego (83), Norwalk (85), and Pomona (82); others go far beyond average consumption: Burbank (111), Beverly Hills (135), and Palm Springs (347).

Take a moment to think about your day and all the ways you and your family use water. You can quickly begin to understand what you’d have to go without if nothing flowed out of the tap. You couldn’t:

  • Flush the toilet
  • Wash your face and hands
  • Brush your teeth
  • Shave
  • Take a shower or bath
  • Make coffee or tea
  • Get ice (and there wouldn’t be soda, beer, or wine)
  • Boil eggs, steam vegetables, make soup, cook pasta or rice
  • Wash dishes, clothes, or your car
  • Water plants or the lawn

Our lives would suddenly become unsanitary and riskier. Diseases would spread and firefighters couldn’t do their jobs properly. The impact on health would immediately become dire. Without water, the body is unable to function correctly. The effects of dehydration come on quickly, especially in extremely hot conditions, which many regions of our country have faced this year.

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Think it can’t happen here?

City dwellers may think a well running dry may only happen in rural areas. After all, the recent water crisis in Needles occurred in a small desert town. But in 2018, Cape Town, South Africa, with a population of more than 4.6 million people, faced becoming the first major city in the world to run out of drinkable water. TIME magazine’s Aryn Baker shared her first-hand experience, “I knew we were in trouble when I found myself Googling dry composting toilets.” 

Residents there were limited to 13 gallons of water per person per day. It was “enough for a 90-second shower, a half-gallon of drinking water, a sinkful to hand-wash dishes or laundry, one cooked meal, two hand-washings, two teeth brushings and one toilet flush,” she wrote.

This August, Mendocino, a NorCal city that sees more than 2 million visitors a year, faced a similar shocking scenario. With the current historic drought impacting at least nine states in the West, many other towns and cities may face terrifying realities. In fact, the United Nations predicts that by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may be living under water-stressed conditions. 

“‘Imagine a Day Without Water’ is an opportunity for all citizens to pause and reflect upon our responsibility to respect and protect water, the world’s most important resource,” said Jim Williams, American Water Works Association (AWWA) President. “Providing safe and plentiful water supplies demands significant resources, technical expertise, and managerial skill.”

Save every day

At Rebuild SoCal Partnership, we encourage Californians to take a moment to reflect on October 21 and recognize how vital water is to our daily lives. Now more than ever we need to treat the free-flowing water from our tap with respect. 

Incorporate water-saving practices into your daily lives and cut back usage by at least the 15% Gov. Gavin Newsom has called for. Contact your elected officials at the state and federal levels and encourage them to invest in water infrastructure.

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