Recalculating the water footprint: Water conservation and new demands on local public health departments
Tuesday, November 5, 2013: 12:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Water conservation and usage issues are usually left to water departments and departments of environmental quality. Most health departments focus on water quality issues. Climate change has brought higher than normal temperatures and lower than normal water supplies to significant regions of the United States. This trend and growing population levels in the Southwest and Midwest are requiring health departments to consider water shortages as public health security issues.
For help on finding best practices on water conservation we can look globally and locally. The World Health Organization has integrated water security throughout the eight Millennium Development Goals. An example of this is in the MDG 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education. The WHO indicates the time and effort put into collecting water is a major road block to increasing children's (primarily girl's) education. To solve the issue of universal primary education, we need to solve the issue of water access.
A Healthy People 2020 Environmental Health theme is Surface and ground water quality. The focus is on "Contamination by infectious agents or chemicals..." EH-6 does focus on a 10% reduction in domestic water use. To attain the target, the common message on water conservation is to turn off the tap when brushing teeth or to flush the toilet less often. This target and these messages are important, but we should remember domestic water usage only accounts for 8% of our water footprint. If local health departments are to have an impact on our water footprint, public health officials need to understand how we use water and can save water. This understanding will shape how public health departments promote water conservation in a meaningful way.
This presentation illustrates how we use water, how water usage and conservation concerns shape public health policy, and the best practices at the state and local levels. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment response will be reviewed to illustrate how states are managing this crisis. The Dallas County and Austin Health and Human Service responses to these threats will be reviewed to illustrate current and future best practices at a local level.
Session Objectives: 1. Identify the three main categories of water consumption.
2. Discuss how water issues are integrated into global health policies.
3. Identify why water conservation is an emergency preparedness issue for public health departments in the United States.
4. Assess local and regional health department’s practices for educating the public on water conservation.
See individual abstracts for presenting author's disclosure statement and author's information.
Organized by: Environment