Technological advances have enabled agriculture to divert river and lake water for irrigation. Besides running dry before they reach their destination, waterways like the Jordan River are being contaminated by agricultural runoff: pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers that add nitrates. Extremely important is the depletion and pollution of aquifers through irrigation and fracking.
According to Just Water, it is the poorest of the poor who suffer most from a polluted and diminished water supply. Third-world women and girls have to walk miles for the family’s fresh water, not only taxing their bodies and putting them in danger of assault, but also preventing them from getting an education.
Bottled water companies use up valuable natural resources such as petroleum to make the water bottles. The companies also may prevent the people living in the area of the water sources from accessing the water for their own domestic use. Some people, like bottled water companies, claim that water is a commodity that is subject to the laws of economics and supply-and-demand where the “have-nots” lose out. According to Catholic social teaching and Just Water, everyone deserves clean, accessible water, regardless of the ability to pay. Without it, people die, such as children in dire poverty who get diseases like diarrhea and cholera from polluted water.
Therefore, it is imperative that the first world addresses the water problem. Agriculture could conserve water, for instance, by using drip irrigation and covering irrigation canals to prevent evaporation. Agriculture also could move toward using organic methods so that fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides do not pollute nearby water.
Most industrial uses return the water back to the water supply, albeit often polluted, but fracking is one industry that takes water out of the water supply. Besides using way too much water, the water from fracking is not available to be treated and used again for agricultural or domestic needs. Another industrial issue is the burning of fossil fuels because the greenhouse effects are wreaking havoc on Earth’s precipitation.
I recommend this book as it shows how the water crisis is a theological issue. The Church’s preferential option for the poor demands justice for them. The world’s poorest, not generally those creating the water crisis, suffer the gravest consequences.