Back in 2007, Dr. Farrington, the Executive Director at the California Academy of Sciences took a step toward sustainability by banning water bottles at meetings and functions, noting that bottled water is expensive, wastes plastic, and is harmful to the environment. Since then, bottled water has been banned at private functions and in the Academy café – glass bottles are available but not plastic ones. At NightLife, water is dispensed in compostable cups. I am in further support of this decision after recently watching the documentary Blue Gold: World Water Wars.
Blue Gold is a documentary that focuses on the controversy that has arisen by the marketing and privatization of water. The planet provides a cycle to provide fresh water. To begin, water in the oceans and in caches of ice and snow are heated by the sun and evaporate. This water vapor is then carried into the atmosphere and condenses into clouds. Clouds migrate through the sky, collide and grow. Some of these cloud particles then fall as precipitations in as rain snow or ice.
This water then either falls back into the ocean or onto land. Some of it accumulates into snow packs or glaciers. A fraction of it enters streams or rivers and flows back to the ocean. Some water seeps into the ground and becomes ground water. Part of groundwater stays close to the surface and nourishes and replenishes topsoil. Ground water can also seep deep into the ground and create a water cache in saturated subsurface rock; these catches are known as aquifers. This water cycle is constantly replenishing and provides the freshwater for all life on the planet. A great chart and break down of this cycle is provided by USGS.
Blue Gold touches on how this cycle is getting interrupted. For example, in cities ground water cannot seep into the ground through the concrete to create aquifers. So most of the run off goes directly back to the ocean. Thus most cities must cart fresh water from far away; water is most often pulled out of aquifers, which creates a desertification of once fertile land. Without the ground water, soils dry out and cannot sustain the fertility of the plants and trees creating a dessert environment. Streams and rivers in a natural cycle will push sediment and nourishment into the land surrounding them. Much like blood is a super highway in our bodies, streams and rivers act like the vein and arteries of the Earth. Huge dams used to harness power and provide drinking water have dried up these rivers and the subsequent land around them.