by Cameron Pey, Sir Francis Drake High School, MMWD 2018 Water Scholar
There shouldn't be anything special about water. Colorless, tasteless and odorless, it seems far more forgettable than essential. But for some reason, life on Earth requires water more than anything else.
Food, shelter, and clean water are the three most basic needs of every human being on the planet Earth. In many environments, humans can survive without shelter. In times of famine, humans can survive up to three weeks with no food.
Water, however, is an entirely different story. Water is essential to human survival. The human body can survive no more than a week without water, with this time being cut down to mere hours in extreme heat. Renowned marine biologist Sylvia Earle once said, ''No water, no life. No blue, no green". Water is imperative for life. Our planet is 75% water; our bodies are 70% water. It makes perfect sense that humans, as well as most other forms of life, wither almost immediately when it is kept from us.
Water is the single most fundamental need of every human on planet Earth. Water is our planet's most precious gift, and has made Earth a rare oasis in a universe full of inhabitable worlds. However, the access to clean water is a privilege, not a right, in today's society.
The principle of scarcity in economics tells us that society has insufficient resources to fulfill our unlimited needs. This is indeed the case with clean water. The human race's need for clean water is too large to be completely satisfied, at least for very long, in the way the world allocates water today. While in some parts of the world, people flood their shamrock-green lawns with water, in other parts of the world people die every day from dehydration. The management of our most precious resource is one of the most complex problems modem society faces. Around the world, people walk miles upon miles every day just to acquire the water they need to survive. In Marin County, however, we are lucky to have both the natural landscapes that allow for the accumulation and collection of water as well as regulation that favors sustainability. While other parts of the world have had to deal with issues involving the privatization of water, Marin County has the privilege of being able to value environmental friendliness over profit and other products of corporate greed.
For our Marin community, water is often overlooked and undervalued. An average Marin resident thinks water streaming out of a faucet isn't a miracle or even a reason to smile. But this stream of water coming from the kitchen sink or the showerhead is a gift to which most people in the world don't have access. We are very lucky, yet many take our clean water for granted.
Marin County reservoirs allow our county to be rich in natural beauty and open space. The reservoirs are not only a scenic locale to hike and bike around; animals and wildlife are able to thrive in the land that they once ruled. Due to the attention our community has given to the protection of wildlife, fish flourish in the reservoirs across the county, from Kent Lake to the Nicasio Reservoir. These same water reservoirs allowed our county to survive during the most recent California drought, and brought us out of the drought faster than other areas of California. While many of these other counties are forced to depend entirely on water from outside sources, our county is, for the majority, self-sufficient due to our well-managed reservoirs.
Not only is water
a crucial resource for our community, but also clean
water. It wouldn't matter if Marin County, even in a drought, had one hundred times the amount of water we have now if it was polluted. The cleanliness and safety of our water is what makes it so valuable. Unclean water is often more of a curse than a blessing; unclean water spreads disease and sickness, while clean water spreads and creates life.
Some give the name "liquid gold" to oil, but this epithet is far more accurate when given to water. Clean water is more valuable than gold. It is just as precious and rare, but also keeps us alive. Each drop of the stuff escaping a leaky faucet is a drop of liquid gold down the drain. Every rainfall should be treated as a deluge of treasure falling from the sky.
Humans have struck a delicate balance with water. Obviously, human beings are land creatures. We can't breathe water into our lungs nor survive long stretches beneath the water's surface. We are unique in that water, though not our home, is still a place of comfort for us. From a very young age, humans splash around and laugh in water, whether in lakes or just at bathtime. Water is the single most necessary substance for human survival, yet also can be life-threatening in the form of floods and other water-related natural disasters. Both the lack and the overabundance of water can be disastrous; yet somehow, the grand majority of the time, our community has just the right amount. This balance is not easy to achieve.
Water has value even beyond keeping our community (both the people and the animals) alive. Water allows us, both the human race at large and the people of Marin County, to thrive.
The water that streams into our baths and showers keeps us clean. The swimming pools we fill with water allow for the pursuit of athletic perfection. Clean water allows Marin's famous forests and nature to grow and prosper. Gardens and parks all around our community flourish due to Marin County water. The reservoirs in Marin County, and the natural space surrounding them allow residents and visitors to find a time to connect with nature in their busy lives. Water careening out of sprinklers turns the front yard into the stage upon which our children dance and play. Water contributes to our quality of life in addition to keeping us alive.
Water is a resource of paramount importance for both for the entire world and our Marin community. It is something we must cherish and preserve. Water both gives us life and adds quality and joy to that same life. More precious than gold and more necessary than food, clean water is essential for any community, including Marin, to both survive and to thrive.
Cameron Pey is a senior at Sir Francis Drake High School and lives in San Anselmo. After graduation, she will attend Duke University and plans to study Economics. In her free time, Cameron enjoys playing tennis, going on hikes with her dog, and spending time with friends.