Can you imagine a day without water? The Value of Water Coalition is asking people around the world to do just that between October 6th and 8th. The core message of “Imagine a Day Without Water” is that water is essential. Beyond that, however, the campaign wants to remind people that water can’t be used without infrastructure—or, as they put it, “pipes, pumps, equipment, and people working 24/7 to deliver clean water to homes and businesses, and then remove and treat wastewater so it can safely be reused or returned to the environment.”
For more than 30 years, we have been supporting these very principles, developing interactive teaching methods that help people of all ages understand why water is important, how water is used every day in direct and indirect ways and who is responsible for making sure that our taps turn on and our toilets flush. And water education is more important than ever in making sure that we only imagine a day without water—not experience it.
Water education can make a difference. In California, where an unprecedented four-year drought has made water a daily topic of conversation and news, public education and outreach has helped the state achieve significant water savings. Daily residential use has dropped in almost all urban areas since 2013, and more decreases are expected as education is combined with tougher enforcement.
Expanded education and outreach around water infrastructure could have similar impacts. The Value of Water Coalition asserts that the nation is at risk because our water infrastructure and resources are at risk.
- After working around the clock for 100 years or more, water and wastewater infrastructure is aging and failing.
- These systems were built in the early 20th century for communities that looked completely different than today.
- We also face serious water resource challenges including epic drought in the Western states; water and sewer breaks in East Coast and Midwestern communities; and, climate change and rising sea levels, which contribute to flooding and additional stress on water systems.
- With a growing national population and finite water supplies, we have long-term water supply challenges that must be addressed with new and creative strategies that meet current and future needs.
The more people are taught about water and water infrastructure, the more they will demand investment in maintaining and improving the systems that make our water safe and secure. We at Project WET support a world in which action-oriented education enables every child to understand and value water, ensuring a sustainable future. Imagine A Day Without Water? We hope the efforts of our network of partners and educators will help the United States keep that firmly in the realm of imagination.