In most areas of the industrialized world, water availability is not something that citizens think about on a regular basis. Large systems of wells and water purification centers provide cities and towns with fresh water continuously. These wells are generally fed by a large body of water, primarily rivers and larger lakes. These water bodies are fed by rainwater, streams, and other natural sources. Most times, there is no risk of water running out before it is replenished.
There are, however, issues surrounding water availability being used for other purposes. If water levels in the wells or natural supplies deplete by large enough amounts due to drought or overuse, then it can affect animal habitats, sports and recreation, and anyone who lives on a waterfront property. In some areas that are near oceans, saltwater intrusion may also create an issue. When too much fresh water is pumped out, saltwater can eventually be drawn out to the surface as well. This results in depleted water quality.
When water quality suffers, more efforts are needed to filter and purify it. This results in higher water bills because more manpower and machinery is required to carry the extra load. These are serious issues surrounding water availability because many people cannot afford an increased water bill.
In some areas, there may be an actual water shortage. This usually occurs during a time of severe drought. When no rain falls for an extended period of time to replenish the water source, while depend for water remains the same, the source will eventually run low on water. If this occurs, an alternate water source must be found by finding a nearby fresh body of water or by drilling deeper well in the current source. Either option can be quite pricey and not always practical.
Many non-industrialized and developing countries have even more severe issues surrounding water availability. These areas often have no way of digging wells, purifying drinking water, or supplying water to a large number of people. People are forced to take water directly from streams and rivers. Sometimes this means walking several miles a day to obtain fresh water. If the water source becomes contaminated or depleted, then many people are left without clean water.
Some people get their drinking water from small wells dug for a particular property or area. This water may still have to be purified and filtered, but on a smaller scale. Most times these wells do not run out of water, but conservation is still important to maintain water availability.
The best way to combat the many issues surrounding water availability is to conserve the amount of water being used by each person. This means turning off faucets when not in use, repairing plumbing leaks, and only using as much water as necessary for everyday function. Water conservation also helps people save money on their water bill each month, because most areas charge according to the amount of water being used per household.