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The issue of fresh water planning and supply ranks is, arguably, the central concern of sustainability. Water is the foundation of life; there is no sustainable development without sustainable water.
People are about 65 percent water, and water is about 70 percent of the planet. Of that, only 2 percent is fresh, or potable water, and most of that 2 percent is locked into glaciers and or other inaccessible locations.
As the population grows, and with it our need for fresh water, the supply will continue to dwindle. As the 2008 UN World Water Assessment noted, "of all the social and natural resource crises we humans face, the water crisis is the one that lies at the heart of our survival and that of our planet Earth." As populations and their aspirations grow, and industry and agriculture grow with them, fresh water needs go up drastically. Meanwhile, a combination of accumulating persistent pollutants in fresh water sources, depletion of "fossil" water (very old underground aquifers that recharge very slowly), and precipitation changes brought on by climate change and forest clearing add up to sharply less fresh water available to meet ever-growing needs.
The oceans can flush themselves clean and the Rhode-Island size plume of contaminants in the Gulf of Mexico can go away, but only over time, and only if we elect new policies and practices that minimize loading surface waterways and subsurface aquifers with contaminants.
Saving water saves energy, given how much energy it takes to bring potable water from its source to an office building, residence, or industrial site.