Water covers about two-thirds of the Earth’s surface. Only 2.5 percent of the world’s water is not salty, and two-thirds of that is locked up in the ice caps and glaciers. Of what is left, about 20 percent is in remote areas. With less than 0.08 percent of all the Earth’s freshwater available to humans, a worldwide crisis over water is brewing.
According to the United Nations, 31 countries are now facing water scarcity and one billion people lack access to clean drinking water. Water consumption is doubling every 20 years. At the same time, water sources are rapidly being polluted, depleted, diverted and exploited by corporate interests ranging from industrial agriculture and manufacturing to electricity production and mining. Hydrolic fracturing, or “fracking,” is one practice that is impacting our freshwater supply. The process uses water, sand and chemicals that are injected into wells to fracture the surrounding rock and extract embedded shale gas and oil. Proponents cite the nation’s vast stores of buried gas as an alternative to importing foreign oil. But there are many objections to fracking. In the U.S. there have been numerous incidents of well and equipment failure, compromised air quality and water contamination. Fracking is already affecting water-stressed regions throughout the country.
As drinking water has been degraded and people have lost faith in their municipal water treatment facilities, the bottled water industry is promoting its expensive product as the solution.