Every year March 22 is a special day around the world. It is the day the United Nations has designated as World Water Day beginning back in 1993. Each year there are events, reports and numerous news stories published in the U.S. and abroad highlighting the immense problems created by the lack of clean water for drinking and sanitation. This year is no exception.
Unsafe water kills more people than war. Not surprisingly this year the United Nations has issued reports describing how unprecedented pollution continues to threaten the quality of the world’s water resources. http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=34150&Cr=water&Cr1
Wetlands are identified as part of the solution. According to United Nations Environmental Programme Executive Director, Achim Steiner
“World Water Day highlights how the work of improving and sustaining the
world’s water quality is everyone’s responsibility. It may seem like an
overwhelming challenge but there are enough solutions where human
ingenuity allied to technology and investments in nature’s purification
systems such as wetlands, forests and mangroves can deliver clean water
for a healthy world.”
Press Release: Time to Kill Global Tide of Sick Water
UN Report: Sick Water http://www.grida.no/_res/site/file/publications/sickwater/SickWater_screen.pdf
In an Opinion Article in the Business Mirror: Conserve water, Conserve Biodiversity Rodrigo Fuentes Executive Director of the Asean Centre for Biodiversity describes how healthy wetlands and healthy ecosystems are required to provide clean water, not just for the people of the world, but wildlife as well. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.phpoption=com_content&view=article&
The United States has its share of problems providing clean drinking water and sanitation. Ten percent of the U.S. population lives without access to clean drinking water. Last year at the Maine International Film Festival in Waterville I saw the documentary “Tapped” about drinking water challenges in the U.S. and the many concerns that have been raised about bottled water.I came across the film again in a piece today in the Huffington Post: World Water Day: The Bottled Water Lie and Your Health http://www.huffingtonpost.com/edison-de-mello-md-phd/the-water-bottle-lie-and_b_506523.html which highlights some of the health and pollution (plastic bottles) concerns associated with bottled water.
Whenever I think about water and sanitation, I remember a trip to the Phillipines 20 years ago. Maybe it was the American military bases dating back to World War II but for whatever reason there were many bizarre attempts to adopt American culture. I can vividly remember a young man carrying two baskets suspended on a pole slung across his shoulders into a mountain village that could be reached only on foot. No roads. His baskets were filled with bottles of coca cola.
Similarly some of the citizenry attempted to copy American sanitation without understanding the underlying concept. One day we traveled for eight hours by public bus complete with chickens stuffed in boxes above our heads. There was one stop for food and restroom facilities. It was on a high dusty mountainside. There, after a long wait in line, I discovered a familiar American ceramic toilet in an outhouse with no pit underneath, no running water.
Yes, it was unspeakably awful. I had never given a thought to what it was like to live without sanitation before my trip. But by the end, I would begin to view toilets, taps and hot water as one of my most treasured privileges. I still do.
In the coming years competition for access to potable water will grow in the United States and abroad. If supplies are going to be adequate to meet the many needs, then wetlands, forests and other natural resources will need to be managed to sustain and increase the availability of clean water.
Other Interesting Links:
Water Conservation Ideas from U.S.A. Today
More Water Conservation Ideas from “Ask Ryan”
United Nation’s World Water Day website:
World Water Day
US World Water Day
World Water Day Events Around the World
PepsiCo Marks World Water Day 2010 with Global Water Goals
No Water Sucks contest