by Jessie Smith, Greenheart Intern

A $1.50 doesn’t seem like much on a hot summer day. It’s just one water bottle. What harm could it do?  Little do we realize that about 500 million other people in the US think the same way each week. That’s enough bottles to circle the globe five times! That $1.50 in reality, is contributing to a steadily growing problem: water overconsumption.

Each year, our water consumption continues to grow at a rate that threatens our water supply. Aquifers such as Ogallala Aquifer, the largest in North America, continue to pump water across the country at a rate that’s faster than can be replenished.

In the Northeastern Illinois region alone, it’s estimated that the water demand is to grow by 36%-64% from 2005-5050 if we continue current patterns of water usage.

One way that we can do this is by making sure that water infrastructure in our cities and towns are continuously maintained and upgraded to provide clean drinking water. For example, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s (CMAP) The Water 2050: Northeastern Illinois Regional Water Supply/Demand Plan, estimates that water conservation efforts have the potential to save 270 million gallons of water a day, which would mean that we could reduce the projected increase in water demand from 2005-2050 by 71%.

Unfortunately, just making sure our water infrastructure is up to date isn’t enough. Other issues, such as Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) and Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) contaminate our water supplies. That’s why it’s important to take measures to help protect our Lake’s water supply. Properly disposing of old prescriptions rather than throwing them down the drain or toilet can help reduce contaminants.

Using more efficient plumbing fixtures, such as showerheads, toilets, faucets, and washing machines can help reduce your water consumption. Even changing your gardening practices such as when you water your lawn and what plants you plant can help.

And that $1.50 bottle of water? It not only costs more than 2000 times more than tap water, ounce per ounce, but in reality, it’s really nothing more than filtered tap water. Tap water can provide the same, if not better quality water than bottled water.

So next time you go out for a jog on a hot summer day, keep the impact of that $1.50 in mind and turn to a more sustainable option.