Have you ever caught yourself singing the Sesame Street tune “Don’t Waste Water” to your child as he or she gets a drink? (“Water water water water water!”) I’m prone to telling my daughter to “Save some water for the fish!” while she’s washing her hands to get her to think about conservation. In reality, though, it’s not just fish but people who are in need of clean water. March 22 is World Water Day – a great opportunity for all of us to talk to our children about the millions of kids on the other side of the planet who don’t have the luxury of taking an hour long bubble bath every other day – or the ability to turn on the tap to get a cool drink. And they certainly can’t stock up on Vitamin Water at Target or stop in the bodega for a bottle of Aquafina on the way to the park.
This year’s World Water Day theme is “Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge.” Cities are growing faster than ever, especially in the developing world, where 38% of urban growth “is represented by expanding slums, while the city populations are increasing faster than city infrastructure can adapt,” according to the official World Water Day 2011 site. “The objective of World Water Day 2011 is to focus international attention on the impact of rapid urban population growth, industrialization and uncertainties caused by climate change, conflicts and natural disasters on urban water systems.”
That’s something that should resonate with New York City residents, since concerns over pollution of the city’s water supply caused by fracking have been running high as of late. I imagine urban dwellers out West have concerns about their water supply, too. Arizona residents may be facing a water supply shortage, since water from aquifers is unable to replenish itself at the rate it is being depleted. California has begun recycling or “reclaiming” water through a process which, if you haven’t seen or heard about it, is pretty mind-blowing. Can you imagine drinking wastewater? Yeah, it sounds gross, but it’s kind of a miracle – one that much of the world should consider taking part in. Check it out:
Water supply preservation and conservation is of real concern in the US, and many people in developing countries have never had a clean water supply. If you haven’t yet stumbled upon the charity: water site, go there now and donate even $10. They’ll turn $1 into $12, so your donation is “well” worth it. I made a general donation of $25, but you can also donate to a specific project if you prefer. The Guardian pointed out in their coverage of the World Water Day conference in South Africa that “In Africa, where the rate of urbanisation is the world’s highest and urban populations are expected to double in the next 20 years, water services have been on the decline since 1990.” Some governments have suggested privatizing their water supply, but that “spark(ed) protests when attempted in Bolivia and South Africa.” The paper adds, “Last year, the African Development Bank recommended privatisation as the only way to meet the continent’s water and sanitation needs. However, Richard Makolo, leader of the South African Crisis Water Committee, reportedly called privatisation ‘a new kind of apartheid‘.”
Have you talked to your kids about environmentalism and water conservation?