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Fernando Echarri, Ph.D. in Environmental Education , School de Ciencias

Water values

Tue, 23 Mar 2010 09:35:31 +0000 Published in Navarra Newspaper

What is our society's perception of water? For most, the answer to this question is simple: it is an essential commodity, necessary for life, which all of us use on a daily basis.

If we are also asked if it is easy to obtain water for consumption, the answer would also be simple: we turn on the tap and all the quantity we want appears with sufficient quality to be able to drink it. On summary: we perceive water as an unlimited resource , which favors its wastefulness.

In addition, if we were asked how much a liter of water costs, we would almost certainly not know, although we might say "very little". This is due, among other things, to the fact that the water that comes out of our tap is subsidized, as a fundamental and necessary basic good. However, if we were to be charged for all the costs of catchment, piping, drinking water treatment and sanitation, we would be talking about a higher price. So much so that we would be scandalized if we were charged for a liter of water like a liter of gasoline. Price is not the same as value.

Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of many professionals, this perception is gradually changing. We are increasingly aware of the environmental problems affecting fresh water, such as scarcity, pollution, salinization, etc., as well as the socioeconomic and environmental repercussions of this circumstance, and that water is a distinctive element of the Earth: an essential element for all forms of life.

Perhaps this evolution is related to the news, frequent in recent years, showing populations with seasonal water shortages. These limitations have led society to understand that fresh water can be a scarce commodity of which we must always make rational use, not only in times of scarcity.

Thus, we must always save water. A position that could be summarized in the slogan "use what you need and don't pollute".

On the other hand, by saving water, values such as respect, justice and solidarity with others can be promoted, since the water we save could be used to cover the needs of third parties who, without our partnership, would suffer water shortages. For all these reasons, and in a progressive way, the above values are promoted hand in hand with responsibility in the use of water.