Today is World Water Day!

March 22 is World Water Day, created by the United Nations General Assembly and first commemorated in 1993 to raise awareness and encourage action around water issues.

Many of us take access to clean water for granted. It is readily available in our sinks and showers and even in plastic bottles. But, for a vast and growing number of people, access to safe water is a major health issue:

As with many environmental issues, blame is too often placed on population growth. This masks the realities that actually cause the problem. According to National Geographic:

The average U.S. lifestyle takes 1,800 gallons (6,814 liters) of water a day to support — twice the global average.

Meanwhile, major polluters who, big surprise, are corporations rather than individuals, are successfully evading regulation.

And yes, this is a feminist issue. Women hold much of the responsibility for obtaining clean water and are often most impacted by water scarcity. And women are taking action.

While this sort of environmental issue is often thought of as occurring in the global south, the impact of water scarcity is spreading. It’s already a major problem in the U.S. Southwest. This map, which is a few years old, shows the spread of scarcity caused by both physical and economic factors (click for larger version):

map of physical and economic water scarcity.

Huffington Post has a list of a number of ways to take action on this vital issue.

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One Comment

  1. Brianna G
    Posted March 22, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I firmly believe that the greatest struggle we will face in the next few decades will not be peak oil, nor food shortages, nor religious fundamentalism. It will be water. Food can be grown in circulating systems, energy can come from alternative sources… but water is so precious, and so important.
    The American Southwest is losing water. Within 50 years, most taps as currently constructed will not work. All water will be city water, either desalinized or pumped in from other sources. What will happen there when the rich leave for places with clean, fresh, and cheap tap water and the poor are forced to stay? What will happen to our country’s morale on the day the first taps start to dry, the day Tuscon’s water sputters out for the first time?
    I fear that more than anything else I know will happen in my lifetime.

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