MSU Center for Water Sciences


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March 21, 2011

Water for Cities: Celebrating World Water Day 2011

By: Erin Dreelin, Associate Director, and Rachel McNinch, Research Assistant, Center for Water Sciences

For the first time in human history, half of our population lives in cities. In the United States, city dwellers may not think much about access to water or sanitation - they just turn on the tap or flush the toilet, considering water as a luxury. But globally, 141 million urban dwellers do not have access to improved drinking-water and one in four city residents does not have access to improved sanitation. Most of these people live in developing nations where inadequate sanitation facilities often cause contamination of water when heavy rains wash human waste into the open drinking water sources. Contaminated drinking water results in cholera epidemics, fecal-oral diseases such as diarrhoea, and outbreaks of malaria.

Although we in the US do not face the same challenges as developing countries, our infrastructure continually receives failing grades, leaving contaminated drinking water a possibility when pipes rupture. In addition, leakage-loss-rates of 50% are not uncommon in urban distribution systems. Saving this amount could provide an additional 10 to 20 million people with drinking water in each mega city.

This Tuesday, March 22, the world will focus on these and other issues concerning water and cities as we celebrate World Water Day.

So what can you do to celebrate World Water Day?

Attend an event

Events right here on campus

Events around the World

Calculate your water footprint

Water Footprint Network

National Geographic

Conserve water

Check out how much water you can save with water efficient products

Be Spartan Green

Learn how to be Spartan Green

World Water Day grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro as an effort to encourage actions to achieve the goals set out in Agenda 21. In essence, the goals of World Water Day are to raise awareness about the Earth’s freshwater resources and encourage action to manage our water resources sustainably.


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