H2 — Oh, no!

By Jackie Lee and Anna Ritz
CMCI Pathways/Troubled Waters

“Hey, you’re doing it again!”

The coaching words of Sesha Pochiaju ring through her roommates’ ears anytime she notices a lack of responsible water usage. Pochiaju, a graduate student at CU Boulder, works in the university’s environmental center examining pressing issues like water shortages while pursuing a degree in environmental engineering. Some of her most current work includes examining the social and environmental consequences associated with water scarcity.

Many groups of people struggle with a reliable supply of safe water. There are a variety of Native American tribes throughout the United States that can’t access clean drinking materials. According to Pochiaju, the combination of increasing population and lack of water knowledge has created dangerous situations for tribes across the nation.

Many homeowners throughout the U.S. are currently more concerned about having the greenest lawn than saving water for those who need it most. Even CU is currently overwatering and irresponsibly watering different features around campus.

Pochiaju, among others, often sees sprinklers watering sidewalks and grass for hours on end.

She, “just feels bad because that’s good water being wasted.”

The worst part? Valuable groundwater is being used for the vegetation. The clean water that could be used to sustain human lives is being senselessly allocated for various flower presentations. Pochiaju said that water tables are being depleted, and that the water being used is not being replenished.

The problem isn’t resolved at the U.S. border. Many developing countries throughout Africa and Asia experience the injustice regarding water scarcity. According to the United Nations, unclean water is the second greatest cause of death among children in developing countries.

“The right to clean water is the right to survive,” Pochiaju said.

While the right to survive is challenged with a lack of water, the issue is all too common everywhere around the world.

“One should not be fighting for the most essential thing,” she said.

Working closely with FLOWS (Foundations for Leaders Organizing for Water and Sustainability) Pochiaju is able to collaborate with peers as well as mentor Michelle Gabrieloff-Parish to provide eco-friendly water supplies to low income residents throughout Boulder. Items like low flow shower heads help to conserve water that would otherwise be mindlessly wasted.

Beyond Boulder, Pochiaju works with water scarcity problems in India, her home country.

“The problem is with the low income communities, especially the rural areas where they cannot afford to have so many pumps to get out water, and the drought areas are the most affected because they are semi-arid regions,” Pochiaju said about the poverty stricken areas surrounding her home. Four thousand people die every day because of unsafe water.

“It’s time to wake up, to know what’s coming.”

Colorado River stressed by seven states and Mexico

Seven states and Mexico all have a legal right to water from the Colorado River System. And a series of agreements that divide it up. The problem — all the allocated water is a bit more than what actually exists. So even if everyone gets what they’re promised, the system crashes. There’s not enough water to go around. Then people have to cut back, but many people say no to that unless the other guy cuts back, too. Allocating water is not easy, and in the United States, the right to water is a priority-based system.

In 2015 Change the Course completed a successful multi-year pilot in the Colorado River Basin that supported 17 restoration projects, from headwater rivers in the Rocky Mountains to the Colorado Delta in Mexico, attracted 20 diverse corporate sponsors, and engaged more than 140,000 people through conservation pledges. Change the Course is now expanding throughout North America.

Courtesy Change The Course website.


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