World Water Day was launched in 1993 by the United Nations and is held annually on March 22nd to bring attention to the importance of fresh water and humankind’s ability to sustainably manage this life supporting resource. This year, the theme of the Day is: Water for Cities, Responding to the Urban Challenge.Most of us that live in the developed world in the US, Canada and Europe, take it for granted that when we “turn the tap on,” water will come out and that it will be clean and safe to drink. Urban sanitization, including access to clean water and the safe disposal of solid wastes are a growing health threat in rapidly growing cities around the world. According to the United Nations: “One in two of the almost 7 billion people on our planet live in cities, and 93% of urbanization is occuring in poor or developing countries with nearly 40% of this urban expansion in slums. Between 2005 and 2020, the slum population around the world is predicted to increase by 27 million people a year!” People who will likely NOT have access to clean and safe drinking water.
UNWater.org tells us: “There is growing evidence that water resources will be significantly affect by climate change, both in quantity and quality, particularly through the impact of floods, droughts and extreme events.” Many of these factors push people to cities in times of distress, further stressing the resources of these cities, including things we take for graned, like access to water and waste water services.Sit down with the kid in your life. Talk to them about how lucky we are. Access to water is something we shouldn’t assume. Water is a scarce resource and one we should value more. According to the US Geological Survey, only 2.5% of the water on the earth is fresh water. Access and use of this fresh water is complex, with demands for drinking water competing with agriculture, commercial and manufacturing needs. What are you thoughts, ideas and plans as the world celebrates and acknowledges the importance of fresh, clean water in our lives and for use in our cities?