Ancient Rome had more fresh water available to its people than present-day New York: about 200 gallons (750 liters) per person per day, compared to average per capita consumption in the United States of 150 gallons (563 liters). Rome’s fountains, over 1000 gracing the city, were evidence of abundance of aqua vitae, water of life overflowing. Originally dependent upon the Tiber River for all things aquatic, from drinking to sanitation, Rome quickly encountered limits to growth. Answers lay beneath the ground in the form of springs, channeled by the famed Roman Aqueducts built by a peacetime Roman army. Without abundant water, ancient Rome could not have grown to its population of over one million. The same is true for cities today: water is a limiting factor, made more precious by demands upon its availability for industry, agriculture, and of course drinking. By 2025, half of the world’s people will suffer water deprivation. What can, and should, we do about the destiny of water?
Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.