As I sit at my desk, I stop to reflect on my typical daily routine and all of the ways in which I rely on clean, abundant water.

In the mornings, I use water to make coffee, wash any leftover dishes and refill my cat’s water bowl.

The food I eat throughout the day relies on water to grow and additional water is used to cook the ingredients.

I typically drink three to four liters of water per day, and every time I go to the toilet and wash my hands, I am using water.

My evening routine consists of watering my garden if it hasn’t rained and showering at the end of the night.

I am discussing the intricacies of my daily routine with you not out of vanity but rather to paint the picture of how every one of us is entirely dependent on freely available, clean water.

This reflection has also shown me how drastically different my life is from just a few years ago, when I was serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Panama.

While living in my small coastal community, both electricity and running water were not a provided luxury every day. There were consistent outages as well as problems with our aqueduct. This meant that I always needed to have collected water on hand for days where I turned on my faucet to have nothing but a few drops fall out.

Having enough collected water on hand, and rationing that water for drinking, cooking, bathing, and washing, was a constant stressor that took up much of my free time. What sounds like a terrible extreme scenario to us is the reality for much of the population of our planet.

Even though we have seemingly unlimited amounts of fresh water here in the United States, it is important to remember that it is not the case for everyone.

The term “we all live downstream” means that we are all connected, just like how our water systems flow into each other, eventually emptying into our vast oceans. Individual actions multiply to affect our water quality, and thusly the people and animals dependent upon it.

Simple changes in our everyday behavior can positively impact our local water resources.

  • Practice water conservation in the home by utilizing rain barrels for rain water harvesting, taking shorter showers and being smart with the tap when washing dishes or brushing teeth.
  • Avoid littering and pick up trash when you see it. Especially when it is near a storm drain, as it can be swept in by rain and later discharged directly into our nearby rivers and streams.
  • Be wise when you fertilize! Get a soil test beforehand at your local Clemson Extension office. Don’t apply fertilizer before a rainstorm, and follow the recommended guidelines when applying.
  • Pick up after your dog. Pet waste is unsightly and full of bacteria that can spread disease and pollute our waterways.

Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.