March 22nd is designated as World Water Day. The first World Water Day was designated on March 22, 1993 by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly to bring international awareness about water related issues and inspire action. This year’s UN Water World Water Day theme is water and jobs and is “focusing on how enough quantity and quality of water can change workers’ lives and livelihoods- and even transform societies and economies.” UN Water coordinates the United Nation’s work on water and sanitation for a better world. World Water Day is just one campaign that UN Water coordinates to raise awareness on freshwater and sanitation. According to the UN, people who have the “least access to water and sanitation are usually the most likely to have poor access to health care and stable jobs, thus feeding the cycle of poverty.” 1.5 billion people work in water related sectors; that is half of the entire world’s workers!
Water is essential to life. 60% of the human adult body is water. H20 covers 71% of Earth’s surface with the Great Lakes containing 21% of the world’s fresh water! Access to safe freshwater can be taken for granted. It is easy to forget about the water’s journey before it flows out of the faucet. Water is used in everything. From coffee, the salad you ate for lunch, the car you drive, even the screen you are reading this blog post on was created with water to some extent.
Poor quality drinking water and poor sanitation impacts everyday life across the world. In Michigan, there has been an increased awareness of the importance of safe freshwater. Lead-poisoned water in Flint, Michigan has made national and international headlines. The unfortunate circumstances of the Flint water crisis has brought national and international attention to the importance of fresh water. Issues of water safety began after the city of Flint changed from the Detroit water to system to the Flint river. High levels of lead were found in the homes of Flint residents and high blood-lead levels were found in Flint children (click here to see a timeline of the Flint Water Crisis from the Detroit Free Press). Flint residents are now using water filters or bottled water until further notice. The Flint water crisis has exposed issues of oversight on the local, state, and federal levels that will impact Flint residents for generations to come.
Access to safe freshwater is an issue across the world. This World Water Day, raise awareness on the importance of water in your life. You can raise awareness by: