The Global Water Crisis

Clean, fresh water is one of our most undervalued dental supplies.


We’re in the habit of accessing fresh, clean, drinkable water at the flip of a wrist. But that convenience is misleading.

A worldwide water crisis threatens international health and stability.

Consider that one in eight people in the world lack access to safe water. Over 3 million people die each year from water-related disease. And more people in the world own cell phones than have access to a toilet.

In the US, thirty-six states will face water shortages in the next five years, and places like Arizona and California are already facing limited supply. It’s estimated that in the next 30 years, the US water crisis could cost the country as much as $300 billion.

Pollution, rising temperatures, and population growth all have a role to play in accelerating the water crisis, but waste is a prime culprit. Americans use an estimated 500,000 gallons of water per person in one year. According to, an American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than a typical person in a developing country uses in a whole day for bathing, cooking, cleaning and waste disposal.

How A Water Crisis Becomes a Food Crisis


For the past 30 years, global food production has kept up with population growth, but the emerging global water crisis is quickly turning into a global food crisis as well.

According to USAID, global food supplies could be reduced by more than 10% in the next 25 years. Over a third of the worlds’ fresh water is used to irrigate crops, more than local rivers and groundwater can support in many places.

As worldwide food supply declines, prices go up, affecting the most vulnerable populations, and the most politically volatile. Food riots in Haiti, strikes in Bangladesh, “tortilla wars” in Mexico, and protests in Egypt are all examples of how the water crisis fuels a food crisis, which in turn fuels a social and political crisis.

Here in the U.S., the Ogallala Aquifer is a massive underground water source that supplies 1/6th of American farms, covers approximately 225,000 square miles, and produces $20 billion worth of food to world markets annually. Parts of this aquifer have already dried up, and if lost completely, scientists estimate it will take 6000 years to refill it.

For more information about the worldwide water crisis, check out

It’s up to each of us to do our part to conserve water, including our dental practices.

Dental practices rely on clean water, but not all of it is necessary.

Here are some ways dental offices can reduce their water use and prevent water pollution:

Install an amalgam separator
Follow CDC hand sanitation guidelines, and use hand sanitizer instead of hand-washing when appropriate
When hand-washing is required, turn off the water while lathering.
Participate in the “Save 90 A Day” Campaign educating patients to turn off the water while brushing.
Download the GreenDOC™ Checklist of Standards for Green Dental offices for more water-conservation tips!