An Island Without Clean Water

An Island Without Clean Water

Through our work at Business Connect, we get the privilege to collaborate with many great organizations. Whether it is a local business, a non-profit, or a clean water champion, we are thankful for every connection. One of those organizations is 28Bold and here is their story.

Back in 2013, Christan had a dream to go on a short term mission trip to South Africa, because she was always interested in the African continent, its people, and their long and short term needs. During the trip, she got to learn about South African culture, but she also saw poverty firsthand. This wrecked her and her one and done mission trip turned into something else. She had to do something. For her 30th birthday party, she decided to have donations collected to build a garden in one of the villages in lieu of gifts. The funds were needed for the initial seeds and gardening tools.

The following fall, she visited the village to see how everything was going. As she approached the plot of land, she found that it was all dried up. The villagers explained that they did not have the water needed to keep the garden alive. This shed light on a very big problem that many people around the world face. She also realized that there are so many parallels of Jesus being the living water, so she took this opportunity to share about living water and provide clean drinking water. 

Even though Christan was working a fulltime job and had three kids, she decided to start 28Bold, a non-profit that provides clean water to communities across Africa. The name originally came from Proverbs 28 which says “the righteous are bold as a lion.” Her organization was going to be bold and dive into these clean water projects. They began drilling boreholes in different villages so that they could have easier access to clean water.

For one of their projects, they decided to work in Madagascar. The island is unique in that it is surrounded by water, but remote villages still don’t have access to water. The villages were so remote that one could only visit them by foot or helicopter. There was no way to get the borehole drilling equipment there. A connection in Madagascar recommended Business Connect as a supplier of VF100 water filters which were purchased and provided to those people. 

The impact of the filter distribution was incredible. The communities living there suffered from severe water borne illnesses. One woman had large visible cancers on her body that were life-limiting. They also saw one child’s stomach wiggling because of worms from the water. The families were so grateful for the filters. Some had even walked for days through the rainforest to receive a filter for their family. 
This was one of the many projects that 28Bold completed. They are on a continued mission to be sustainable, building relationships with local pastors and partners as well as employing local well drillers. Even though the pandemic has slowed their progress, they still have upcoming clean water projects. For one of those projects, they will be providing VF100 water filters to the Maasai people on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. We are excited to share their updates in the future. You can learn more about their work by visiting 28Bold’s website. If you need VF100s for your upcoming clean water project, visit the Business Connect website.

Empowering Amazon River Communities

Empowering Amazon River Communities

The Amazon rainforest is the world’s largest tropical rainforest and is famed for its biodiversity. Through the rainforest, the Amazon river flows, the largest river in the world in terms of volume and area of its basin. The Amazon river basin not only is home to a variety of wildlife, but also to many groups of people who have developed lifestyles that are well integrated with the rainforest. 

Our partners at RMDLT are working with one of these groups, the Ribeirinho peoples of Portel, Pará, Brazil. They first saw the need for water filters when they were doing a project to preserve the forest from deforestation. Their goal is to protect the forest and the local customs of the people as well as give them a better way of life. As part of this work, they interviewed the local people to understand their most pressing needs. In addition to social needs like school and health centers, clean water is a big need. There is a lot of pollution in the Amazon river that is a result of logging, ore extraction, cattle ranching and other activities on the river. The water actually causes many health issues in the communities.

Once the RMDLT team knew of the need for clean water the VERRA REDD+ program funds were used to purchase VF100s and VF200s. REDD+ projects play an important role by implementing site-based activities that directly engage local communities to stop deforestation and forest degradation effectively. While government strategies and programs provide the legal and policy frameworks for addressing deforestation and degradation, projects are able to work deeply in a particular place with local communities to address site-specific drivers of deforestation and degradation, driving finance to these critical high-threat areas and the communities that depend on them. As part of their regular work along the river, like providing high efficiency cookstoves, sharing techniques for protecting the forest, and working towards social development goals (SDGs), they distributed the filters. 

The response was very positive when the communities first received the filters. The team did training on how to backflush the filters, the recommended maintenance for the filters, so that the community would be able to make the filters last for many years. When the team followed up a few months later, the locals shared that their health improved when they stopped drinking directly from the river. They were very grateful and pleased that the group provided the means to deliver clean water to their communities.

RMDLT’s long term goal is to provide even more filters through the next year and expand to even more communities. This is to improve the overall quality of life for the Ribeirinho peoples.

This story highlights the importance of ownership in filter projects. When communities realize the benefits of clean water, they are more likely to drink the water consistently and maintain the filters properly. This leads to an even bigger health transformation.

Distribution Highlight: VF600s in Eswatini

Distribution Highlight: VF600s in Eswatini

Despite its small population size, Eswatini (Swaziland) has the highest HIV prevalence in the world and has been greatly affected by the epidemic (UNAIDS, 2019). With this in mind, Daran and Teresa Rehmeyer began an outreach called CHIPS in Maphiveni. It was an intervention in the local communities in eastern Swaziland for impoverished and isolated HIV affected children and their caregivers to access health care. The goal was to develop a local clinic, employing and training local Swazi’s to provide services to their communities. Today, CHIPS stands for Community Health Intervention Programme in eSwatini. 

One of the needs Daran and Teresa noticed was that of clean water. The community tap supplies water from a borehole and storage tanks, and they needed to make sure the water was clean. There was also a rainwater collection system installed at the clinic, which also invites contamination. We had many clinic staff sharing they were experiencing gastrointestinal problems due to the contaminated water. The clinic also sees many community members with water borne illnesses.

Both of these systems give the option for clean water instead of collecting it from the Mbuluzi River or irrigation canals. This river suffers from animal and human fecal contamination as well as contamination from the sugar cane fields and mills upstream. In addition, there are crocodiles that one also needs to avoid when collecting water as people have been taken before. Simple purification methods are also financially out of the reach of most residents: bleach or extra firewood for boiling water are commodities beyond the financial reach of most. 

With this in mind, they decided to ensure clean water for the clinic and community with two VF600 Facility Filters. The overall project was funded through a generous gift from Rotary.  Daran and Teresa also collaborated with community leaders to set up and regulate the system. As of two weeks ago, they finally had everything set and are excited to see the impact of these facility filters in the communities where they work. These filters will allow the clinic to have more time to focus on those affected by HIV and others with health needs.


If you know a community that would benefit from a facility filter like the one Daran and Teresa installed, connect with us! We are happy to discuss options and assist in bringing clean water to those in need. If you would also like to learn more about Daran and Teresa’s work in Eswatini, check out their website.

Branching Out: Could Trees be a Solution to the Water Crisis?

Branching Out: Could Trees be a Solution to the Water Crisis?

In the East African nation of Burundi, the rainy season begins in October. After many dry months, rain once again starts falling onto farms and crops, pouring into the currents of the Nile River, and slapping the surface of Lake Tanganyika. 

Yet despite the long-awaited precipitation, as well as the country’s abundant natural resources, this nation remains in the grip of a water crisis. 

Of the over 11 million inhabitants of Burundi, almost 40% do not have access to safe drinking water in less than a 30 minute trip from where they live. In 2017, according to UNICEF, more than half of the population did not have access to basic sanitation facilities. Even in many health centers and schools, clean water is not nearby. This bears witness to the problematic reality here as in so many areas throughout the world, that water is not being distributed equitably to all communities. This shortage in coverage for water services in Burundi is due in part to destruction from the civil war, as well as the multiple changes in government within the past several decades. However, it may also have another cause: deforestation.

Deforestation has slashed the amount of trees in Burundi down to a staggering 6% of what it once was. Why? With the majority of citizens working in agriculture, many forests needed to be cut down to clear the land for farms. Far from happening overnight, this took place over many generations and under multiple foreign occupations and changes in leadership. Major crops such as coffee and tea account for a significant amount of the nation’s exports, and they are vital to a strong economy. Yet an even larger aspect of agriculture in Burundi is subsistence farming. This is the type of farming in which individual families grow their own food. These farmers are resilient, hardworking, and dedicated to providing food for their families and neighbors. However, in this process of subsistence farming, the soil can easily become stripped of nutrients if not given enough time to replenish itself through rest or carefully selected crop rotation. Unfortunately, the very trees that were cut down to clear land for more farms are proving to be quite critical components in the overall sustainability of healthy soil, air, economic systems, and even clean water. 

Effects of Deforestation

  • Loss of Biodiversity: One of the most irreversible consequences of deforestation is the loss of entire species of animals and plants that rely upon the trees in order to survive. In Burundi, the eucalyptus trees, acacia trees, fig trees, and oil palms all interact with multiple other species. For some, these trees are their home. When their habitats are removed, these creatures can perish. For others, these trees provide food, shade, water, or concealment from predators. Without them, many animals face starvation, exposure, and thirst. 
  • Climate Change: Trees naturally expel oxygen into the atmosphere, and take in carbon dioxide. As the number of trees dwindles, carbon dioxide levels increase, thus contributing to a higher level of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. These gasses re-radiate heat in the form of infrared radiation back to earth, causing rising temperatures that can be harmful and even deadly to many different forms of life. 
  • Soil Erosion: When extensive amounts of trees are taken from the land, soil becomes much more vulnerable to erosion. Tree roots are no longer anchoring into the ground and stabilizing it. When rain or winds come, healthy soil is displaced or washed away, leaving behind ground that is less able to grow healthy crops and sustain agriculture.
  • Loss in Freshwater: As soil erodes, silt often deposit into rivers and streams. These feed into lakes and eventually can lower the quality of the local water. The presence of forests also helps to regulate the flow of rivers in both rainy and dry seasons, which reduces water scarcity. Without these forests, the dry seasons become drier and more dangerous. The Institute for World Economics predicted that droughts would increase in severity as the climate continues to change, and warns that the deforestation of trees drastically impacts the hydrologic cycle. Evapo-transpiration accounts for nearly half of all rain generation around the world. With less trees transpiring water into the atmosphere, even the rainy seasons produce less and less rain. 

Resilience and Hope in the Youth of Burundi

In the face of these challenges, the citizens of Burundi have not been silent. In 1980, the government of Burundi founded national parks, in order to conserve and protect wildlife. This also has helped boost the economy through the promotion of tourism, so that visitors could travel into the country to admire the beauty within it. 

As a nation of many young people, with the country’s median age being between 17 and 18 years old, we are seeing the youth rising up in their creativity, advocacy, and determination. 

UNICEF recently partnered with Cartendo and 14 other youth organizations to challenge Burundian youth to create innovative solutions to problems surrounding COVID-19. The winning ideas were given financial awards so that they could be turned into real actions within the local communities of the winners. 670 solutions were submitted and 5 were endorsed as prizewinners, including a rainwater filter design by 16 year old Johanna Bizindavyi, and a new online platform for distance learning by 16 year old Chanelle Iteriteka. 

Also during this time of COVID-19, a major hygiene manufacturing company, Savonor, partnered with humanitarian groups to offer discounted rates on their soap so that it was more easily accessible to all who needed it. The company also chooses to only use palm oil in their products that has been extracted sustainably under strict environmental standards while also paying fair prices to farmers. It is admirable to see a company like this, who could easily have inflated prices for soap and hygiene prices as the need for them surged, decide instead to lower their prices while still sourcing their ingredients ethically. Even in the uncertainty of a pandemic, hope is still being found. 

While some are addressing the current needs of a world battling the coronavirus, others are continuing to do all that they can to create a better world for future generations by tackling climate change.

One of the most inspiring accounts of hope and sustainability in Burundi is the Greening Burundi Project. This environmental non-profit organization was started in 2018 by 25 year old Emmanuel Niyoyabikoze, and its mission is to plant 50 million trees in Burundi. They have already planted over 256, 738 trees, and are preparing to plant even more in mid-October. 

“I initiated this project alone,” explained Emmanuel Niyoyabikoze, “And the hardest part was having a lack of financial resources. But I tried to inspire young people and now we have around 150 young volunteers helping me to plant the trees. We plant native trees, agroforestry trees, forestry trees, as well as fruit trees.” 

When asked about the importance of trees, Niyoyabikoze answered, “A tree is a natural climate solution. Here in Burundi, we suffered from deforestation. The reports show that in 1990, the forest cover was 57% but in 2018, it was 5.6%. If nothing is done, we will fall into desertification. The main activity in Burundi is agriculture, and this desertification caused soil erosion, soil infertility and the agricultural production became insufficient. Poverty occurred and malnutrition and diseases increased. That is why I started Greening Burundi to reforest my country.” 

With a passion for positive change, Emmanuel Niyoyabikoze is motivated by the fact that trees are absolutely crucial to the well-being of the planet and future generations. They combat climate change, increase the quality of the soil, provide habitats and food for many creatures, and even improve the amount and quality of freshwater available to local communities. 

To invest in and support the inspiring youth of Burundi like Niyoyabikoze is to water a seed. And make no mistake: from these seeds, hope is growing.

At Business Connect, we love to hear these stories of sustainable work to alleviate the water crisis. If you would like to be involved in projects like this one, you can partner with our friends at Connect for Water or Greening Burundi.

 

Everything You Need To Know About A Water Filtration System Before Buying One

Everything You Need To Know About A Water Filtration System Before Buying One

Everyone is looking for new ways to help improve their health. Whether you’re dieting, working out, or simply trying to increase your water intake, it’s requires dedicated effort with some parts easier than others.

When it comes to the water you’re drinking, are you confident that you’re ingesting lead-free, healthy, treated water? Can you count on the water you’re getting from your home?

It’s time to start thinking about how your water is filtered, regardless of whether you’re drinking water at home, out and about, or in any other location. If you live in America, water filtration and clean water probably isn’t the first thing on your mind when you head to the sink to fill up a cup.

You’re not living in a developing country, so your water has to be clean, right? Unfortunately, toxic tap water is a real issue in several different cities throughout the United States, including (but not limited to), Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Brady, Texas, and the well-publicized and infamous Flint, Michigan.

We’re going to lay out everything you need to know about the state of your water, water filtration, and the types of water filters that might be available to you, as well as the benefits of water filtration for you home and your family.

What Is a Water Filtering System?

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If you’re unsure about what a water filtering system is to begin with, here are the basic. In its simplest form, a water filter helps decontaminate water by either using a physical barrier, chemical process, or a biological process.

People use water filter systems for a variety of different reasons, and there are dozens of benefits of filtering your own water. For example, people will use water filters to remove chlorine and bacterial contaminants to provide better tasting and better smelling drinking water. They’ll also use them to remove lead from drinking water immediately before they drink it, eliminating the chance of a harmful substance entering their bodies.

Another benefit of water filter systems is that they provide you with clean water without racking up a huge bill from plastic water bottles ( environmentally-speaking, this is a much better option too).

Overall, drinking clean, filtered water can help to protect your body from diseases and lead to greater overall health. Filtered water can reduce the risk of gastrointestinal disease by more than 33 percent, help children’s’ developing immune systems grow strong, act as the last line of defense against 2,100 known toxins from drinking water, and greatly reduce the risk of rectal cancer, colon cancer and bladder cancer by removing chlorine and chlorine byproducts.

And water filtration doesn’t only benefit drinking water. In fact, filtered water should be used for cooking, drinking, brushing teeth, bathing, and more. Using filtered water means there’s a healthy mineral deposit and a healthy pH in the water you ingest!

Types of Water Filters

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There are several types of water filters that are typically used, each with different mechanics and functions, but all serving the same purpose: cleaning your water supply to provide healthy, safe water. Let’s focus on a few common types.

Activated Carbon

The activated carbon filter is one of the most common household water filters. This type of filter uses activated carbon granules that attract and trap chemical impurities through an absorption process.

Activated carbon granules are based on charcoal and are very porous forms of the carbon that is created by burning wood with a reduced supply of oxygen. Charcoal, somewhat like a cross between lead and a sponge, has an internal surface area that’s riddled with nooks and crannies that can help to boost that absorption process.

The Environmental Working Group does offer one important caveat to remember when using carbon filters:

Keep in mind that carbon filters vary greatly in effectiveness. Some just remove chlorine, and improve taste and odor. Others remove contaminants including asbestos, lead, mercury and volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. However, activated carbon doesn’t remove common inorganic pollutants such as arsenic, fluoride, hexavalent chromium, nitrate and perchlorate.

Additionally, this type of filter isn’t ideal for dealing with hardness like limescale heavy metals, nitrates, fluorine, microbes, and sodium.

Here’s a helpful overview of how activated carbon works:

Reverse Osmosis

You remember osmosis from science class, right? It’s when one things absorbs another. Reverse osmosis is the forcing of contaminated water through a membrane at pressure so that the water is able to pass through, but the contaminants in the water are left behind.

Essentially, you’re making the water go against its natural inclination, to force the comaninents out of a water supply. Unfiltered water is pumped in through a plastic membrane, clean water flows through the membrane at pressure, and that semipermeable filter or membrane will catch all the contaminants in said water.

Again, the Environmental Working Group offers a helpful note regarding reverse osmosis:

Also, consumers should be aware that reverse osmosis systems waste a lot of water – they typically use three to 20 times more water than they produce. For this reason, EWG recommends that they be used for drinking and cooking water only.

Ion Exchange

Ion Exchange filters are some of the best filters for softening water. They can take hard water and make it more digestible by removing limescale. In layman’s terms, these filters are designed to split apart atoms of contaminating substances to make ions, then, then traps those ions  and releases less good ions.

These types of filters use zeolite beads that contain sodium ions. These beads, which act as filters, trap the incoming contaminants and replace them with sodium ions. Without that magnesium and calcium, your water is going to taste softer much more pleasant.

Distillation

This is one of the simplest ways to purify water. While this is less of a type of filter and more of a way to filter water on your own without the use of a fancy device, distillation is still one of the best ways to filter or purify water.

Distillation involves boiling the water, but then taking things a step further to ensure purity. First, you boil water to make steam, much as you would boil it to kill the bacteria. Then you capture the steam and cool it back into water in a separate container. Because water boils at a much lower temperature than other contaminants (like toxic heavy metals), these will stay back as the steam separates and boils off, leaving you with clean water.

Conclusion

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Regardless of where you live (home, on the road, or when you’re camping), it’s important to keep your water as clean and filtered as possible. Water filters are becoming more and more important in a world where every day health seems to be diminishing. Remember to change your water filter every 3 to 6 months, or sooner if you notice the water flow slowing down or your water color becoming darker.

You can easily pick up a water filter at your local grocery store or supply shop, and it doesn’t have to be fancy. Even a simple $30 home filter that you put on the end of your sink faucet will significantly help,. Ultimately, it’s important that you’re putting your health first, and keeping you water clean and filtered is a big step in that direction.

Does Water Usage and Conservation Really Matter? Yes. Here’s Why

Does Water Usage and Conservation Really Matter? Yes. Here’s Why

Water is everywhere, right? You use water when you turn on the faucet to wash your hands, to use the restroom, wash your clothes, and of course, you drink it. Water seems like an abundant, never-ending supply, right?

Unfortunately, that’s not true. In fact, is pretty far from the truth. Water is a limited resource, and even though it seems like you’re surrounded by it, only about 1 percent of water on earth is available for human use.

That’s because the rest of the water is either salt water in the oceans, frozen into polar ice caps, or is inaccessible for us to practically use. This should dramatically shift the way you look at the water. Not everyone has the same access to water, which means that you and your community should understand the way water usage affects you, those around you, and even those around the globe.

In this article, we’ll take a look at water usage, help you understand how countries use water, and discuss the details of water conservation.

Water is a precious resource, but it’s difficult to understand that until you get the global picture. That’s what this article is all about.

Let’s Talk About Water Usage

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“A river is more than an amenity, it is a treasure.” – Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes

Water, as you’d imagine, plays a huge role in our everyday life. There are the obvious uses for water, of course, some of which we discussed above — drinking water, washing water, bathroom water — but think a bit deeper.

What about how your city uses water? Without water, there’d be no fire-fighting, no municipal parks, no swimming pools, or sewage systems. Now consider all the other uses for water, like:

  • Mining
  • Irrigation
  • Thermoelectric power
  • Industrial uses
  • Aquaculture
  • Livestock

That’s a lot of water being used every day.

Now, consider that the thousands of cities around the world using water in the same way. We’re talking billions of liters per day.

However, all that water isn’t spread around equally. Water usage changes drastically depending on the country, city, or town you’re looking at. For example, let’s first look at the United States as a big picture. In 2010, the United States used about 1,343,821 million liters of water per day or about 397,000 thousand-acre-feet per year.

These are massive numbers and it’s hard to grasp their significance until we compare them to other countries. Hang in there.

Now let’s zero in on now on the average American family. This average family uses about 1136 liters of water per day at home, with about 70 percent of this water being used indoors. About 24 percent of that water is for flushing the toilet, 20 percent is showering, 19 percent is from the faucet, 17 percent is for washing clothing, 12 percent is due to leaks in the pipe systems, and about 8 percent for other, miscellaneous uses.

To put that in perspective, it takes anywhere from 13 – 26 liters of water to flush a toilet. That’s a lot of water.

In fact, the average American uses almost 600 liters of water per day on themselves.

Now let’s step back see how much water other countries use in comparison to the United States.

In Australia, the country with the second-highest water usage rates, the average person uses about 470 liters of water every day. Following that:

  • The average person in Italy uses about 390 liters per day,
  • The average person in Japan uses 375 liters per day
  • The average in Mexico is 360 liters per day
  • The average in Spain is 325 liters per day
  • The average in Norway is 300 liters per day
  • The average in Austria is 230 liters, respectively

Contrast this to developing nations like Mozambique, Uganda, Rwanda, Haiti, and Ethiopia, use about 2 to 15 liters of water per day, per person.

Are you starting to get the picture? Developed countries use an incredible amount of water compared to developing countries. The disparity is staggering.

Water Conservation Matters

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“Water links us to our neighbor in a way more profound and complex than any other.” –  John Thorson

After seeing how much water the United States uses compared to other countries, you probably have a lot of questions, such as:

  • How do we replace that water?
  • How does my water usage affect other countries?
  • What can I do to help?

Let’s break down it down a bit more to give you better grasp on the current water situation, how we replenish our water, and how each person’s actions can determine water usage for those around them.

First, let’s talk about the watershed. A watershed is a precipitation collector. In short, it’s an area of land that drains all the streams and rainfall to a common outlet like a bay, a reservoir, or even a stream channel. This water is collected, stored, and then put to use for drinking, mining, industries, irrigation and more.

Watersheds are one of the biggest ways that we replace and replenish our water supplies. Put simply, watersheds are all over the place. Look at the ground below your feet, you’re standing on a watershed designed to collect the falling rain and drain it to a common outlet so that it can be used later.

How does this affect you, those in your area, and those far away? Watersheds are connected. In fact, all land and water are ecologically linked with each other through a  watershed (also called a catchment or drainage basin).

Watersheds don’t have boundaries, they’re not ruled by politics, and they can encompass several national, cultural and economic spans. All this to say, each watershed affects the next and the next and the next. It’s a web of cause and effect, and the actions we take direct the people downstream from us, downstream from them, and so on.

So, how does water conservation work, and can your actions help conserve water for other people who need it? Short answer: Absolutely.

There are dozens of ways you can change the amount of water you’re using every day in order to conserve water for others. For example, test all of your pipes at home for leaks. As you might remember, data suggests that about 12 percent of the average American family’s water supply is depleted by leaks, so get those checked out to keep a better eye on your water supply.

Additionally, monitor your showers. Take shorter showers, don’t leave the faucet running, and consider upgrading your toilets to new models that don’t need up to 26 liters to flush.

Also, watch how often you water your lawn, wash your car, or use the washing machine. Keeping a schedule and restricting your usage can make major changes in your water usage patterns, which in turn, will deeply affect the rest of the world. Everyone can, and should, do their part to conserve water.

How We Use Our Water: Some Final Thoughts

“Anything else you’re interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air and drink the water. Don’t sit this one out. Do something. You are by accident of fate alive at an absolutely critical moment in the history of our planet.” – Carl Sagan

Even though water surrounds us, we’re constantly fighting the battle of depleting water sources, over-usage of our water supply, and unequal water distribution due to an area, poverty, and political issues.

It’s important to remember that water and watersheds connect us all. Our actions have a direct impact on the people near us and far from us. The way we treat and use our water can determine the outcome of the way other people and countries treat and use their water, and so and so forth.

Water usage is not always — in fact, is very rarely — equal among countries. Because we’re a web of connected watersheds, water conservation in your own home is extremely important to determining the amount of water that people in towns, cities, states, countries, and continents have.

Monitor your water usage, learn tips and tricks to cut back on the water you use daily, and remember that in some way, we’re all connected by the water around us.

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