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Imagine an Economy Without Water

05/09/24 05:30:am
Blue Notes graphic from MMSD's Executive Director Kevin Shafter

“Imagine a Day Without Water” is an awareness campaign sponsored by the US Water Alliance.  The goal of the campaign is to have each of us stop and think about how we would survive if we did not have water, helping us understand the importance of water in our daily lives.

Taking a page from this campaign, what if we tried to imagine an economy without water?  This scenario would be bleak!  Our world’s economy relies on water for everything.

The chart shows the estimate water usage in the USA in 2010.

Quoting from the EPA website, “Water is used to grow our food, manufacture our favorite goods, and keep our businesses running smoothly.  We also use a significant amount of water to meet the nation's energy needs.”  

EPA’s graphic shows where the economy intersects with water: human consumption, electricity generation, food production, and mining.  Bringing this connection to water closer to home, it takes approximately 3,200 gallons of water to make a cell phone.

Imagining an economy without water means no electricity, no food, and no transportation.  What is left?  Not much.  EPA also says that only one percent of the world’s water supply is suitable for human use; the rest is saltwater, frozen, or inaccessible. 

All this drives home the point that we need to take care of the water we use every day AND we also must care for the water infrastructure that delivers and removes it from our daily lives. 

So go ahead, imagine an economy without water!  If that doesn’t wake you up, imagine life without a cell phone!

MMSD'Kevin Shafer signature

Kevin L. Shafer, P.E.
Executive Director - Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District 

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