What to do on World Water Day

Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?' (Matthew 25:34-37)

Chances are most of you reading this are hydrated. You have plumbing at home that’s attached to a well-run water-supply system, or a well that pulls water out of a deep, clean aquifer. Either way, you have clean, drinkable water on demand. And most of you have a system that flushes and drains your used water out of your home, through a sewage collection system, and to a treatment facility that cleans the water before it finds its way back into nature.

All of this keeps you healthy and your community livable. Me, too.

But not everyone is so lucky.

Today is World Water Day—a 24-hour period to remember that clean water is needed everywhere 365 days a year. Here are some statistics from Catholic Relief Services about the world without clean water or wastewater systems:
  • 3.6 million people die every year from water-related diseases.
  • 4,000 children die every day from diseases caused by poor water, sanitation and hygiene.
  • 884 million people around the world don't have access to clean water.
  • Every $1 invested in water and sanitation returns about $8 in increased productivity and decreased health care costs.
  • 84 percent of people without access to clean water live in rural areas.
As you know, I work as a regulator of municipal wastewater treatment collection and treatment facilities. Over my two decades doing this, I've seen profound improvements in the technology and the professionals that protect our waterways. More recently, as communities struggle with the many economic demands of the day, the required upkeep, repair, and replacement of water infrastructure becomes increasingly difficult.

True, there are many needs that government must fund: schools, public safety, welfare programs—and unfunded pension programs. But without clean water, all those issues either become worse or irrelevant. Clean water is at the foundation of Civilization 101.

And so this World Water Day, you should consider three things.

The first is to donate to help agencies like Catholic Relief Services help millions without access to clean water or sanitation. Your donation now can save lives. It’s really that simple.

The second is to read up on the water infrastructure issues in your own community and nation. There are some good resources here, and here, and here to do just that. You can also visit your community's web page and find out about your water and/or wastewater system funding and condition. Such knowledge, and your involvement, will keep your community's eye focused on the most basic need of human biological life: water.

The third (and most important) is to pray. And so, may God bless and strengthen all those who suffer today—this moment—because of poor, or no, access to clean water. And may those in public office and those responsible for cultural polices make the wise choice of funding and supporting the ongoing operation and maintenance of the infrastructure that brings clean water to our homes, and purifies the polluted water that we leave behind, so that the natural waters of the globe remain clean, healthy, and always plentiful. Heavenly Father, may life, and the clean water necessary for it, always be at the center of our cultures, our lives, and our laws.

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Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.