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Stanford student offers a simple solution to solve water scarcity: 'Everyone can be a water hero'

'It's really something that's creeping up on us, and we're not taking action fast enough,' Ramachandran said.

Stanford student offers a simple solution to solve water scarcity: 'Everyone can be a water hero'
Cover Image Source: Instagram | shreyaramachandran

According to The New York Times, 17 countries around the world are currently under extremely high water stress, which means they have used all the water they have, as per new World Resources Institute data. But still, most people do not realize that there is water scarcity across the world, says conservation expert Shreya Ramachandran, as reported by PEOPLE. "It's very much a silent crisis," says Ramachandran, the 19-year-old founder of The Grey Water Project. "It's only going to get worse with climate change." 



Disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires leave death and destruction behind. Moreover, they leave deep visual impressions of the impact of climate change. "But with water scarcity, you don't have that same sense of urgency," says the Stanford University sophomore, who studies biology and environmental policy. "It's really something that's creeping up on us, and we're not taking action fast enough," Ramachandran, who attended this year's UN Water Conference, told PEOPLE.



For at least one month each year, 4 billion people β€” two-thirds of the world's population β€” have almost no water, according to UNICEF, which has also stated by 2030, the world will be facing a severe water shortage that's estimated to displace 700 million people. By 2050, "a fourth of all people might live in a country that is affected by chronic shortages of water," said Ramachandran. "Those are huge numbers." Thus, in an effort to save water, Ramachandran started The Grey Water Project in 2016. They encourage the reuse of grey water and water conservation through outreach, advocacy, policy changes, and public education for school-aged children. 



Grey water is produced from non-potable water from sinks, showers, bathtubs, and washing machines that can be reused to flush toilets, water lawns and gardens, and even irrigate crops. It makes up about 60% of the water used in a typical household, says Ramachandran, who in 2017 received the President's Environmental Youth Award and became a member of the United Nation's Global Wastewater Initiative. "Reusing grey water can save up to 11 trillion gallons of water per year in the U.S. alone," said Ramachandran, who received the 2019 Children's Climate Prize awarded to young environmentalists each year.



"I didn't know much about water scarcity before I started The Grey Water Project," she said. "This is definitely something that I care about deeply because I'm a Californian, but also because it's affecting my family and people that I really care about." We really do have a lot of the tools that we need to solve this problem," she said. "We have the tools and technology that will enable us to really make a massive difference. They just need to be deployed effectively at scale."



Ramachandran is also trying to change policy, locally and nationally. "In a perfect world, I think we would see a lot more municipality-wide water recycling," said the young scientist. Solving a global problem requires many kinds of solutions from individuals, businesses, governments, and more. But Ramachandran believes "everyone can be a water hero."



It is indeed a welcome initiative to solve the water crisis!

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