The end of March not only marks the official beginning of spring, but also holds one of my favorite holidays. Today is the annual recognition of United Nations’ World Water Day, an initiative started in 1992 and held annually on March 22nd as a way to draw attention to the importance and advocacy of freshwater and sustainable management of its resources.
This year’s theme – Water Cooperation – is a reminder that every action involving water management requires effective cooperation between multiple parties, whether it’s at the local or the international level. Building a village water pump in sub-Saharan Africa requires local participants to cooperate, just as bringing water from a river to irrigate farmland in the Midwest requires regional cooperation. If any of the people involved in water management do not cooperate, the chain is broken, and unmanaged water resources can cause adverse effects on human lives and the economy. When water resources are cooperatively shared and managed, peace, prosperity and sustainable development are more likely.
All economic activities depend on water, and cooperation can lead to a more efficient and sustainable use of water resources.The things we all do on a local level can have a much larger impact. As a water industry, we invest in proactively replacing and repairing pipes to help minimize the amount of treated water that is lost. We also invest in technologies such as water reuse, desalination, leak detection, and more in order to maximize water resources and keep innovation moving forward so it can eventually be applied on a broader scale. But the connection we all share through water is strengthened just as significantly by what individuals and groups are doing in their communities.
Water problems anywhere in the world are global problems, and local actions are important as part of the “cooperation chain” to help on minimizing the global problems.One problem encountered in almost every continent on Earth is water scarcity (Figure 1); people living in the affected areas are in need of cooperation to find the best solutions to a common problem: lack of water, independent from their ethnicity, religion or social status. Local or individual efforts to promote better water use and management are just a link in the global “cooperation chain” for successfully conserving our water resources.
Figure 1. Global Water Scarcity by River Basin
I hope you join me in the cooperation chain, because even if we never directly come in contact, we will be linked together. It’s easy to find a wide variety of events happening to celebrate World Water Day, and information on how to participate every day of the year.