Happy World Water Day! As John Orr wrote in Coyote Gulch this morning, “be thankful that Colorado is on top of the hill.” Of course we have water woes in our state, but we’re also part the global water crisis — Coloradans are working to tackle that every day.
To honor World Water Day, take a look at Erin McIntyre’s article Water for All published in the Colorado Foundation for Water Education’s latest edition of Headwaters Magazine. McIntyre writes
Imagine life without your toilet. The picture, both at home and in the surrounding community, gets messy quick. Or, perhaps there is no faucet to turn, whereby, with little effort of your own, safe water pours forth from underground pipes that connect to a water treatment plant.
Now, imagine if all the children under five years old in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona and Kansas died from diarrhea. Reality strikes. An equivalent number of children—approximately 1.5 million—younger than five do, in fact, perish this way annually around the world. This silent threat steals the breath of more young children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. A lack of access to clean water and sanitation, including toilets and wastewater treatment, is the root cause of this problem.
The absence of clean water is also linked to poverty and lack of education and opportunity. Diseases contracted from drinking dirty water either kill people, or make them too sick to work or go to school. And the burden of hauling water over long distances—the United Nations estimates an average of 6 kilometers per day in poor communities—is often shouldered by women and girls, who likewise lose the opportunity to earn an income or an education.
The discrepancy between the water “haves” and “have-nots” has grown so glaring that in 2010, the United Nations General Assembly declared access to safe drinking water and sanitation a basic human right, making it a global priority to assist the nearly 900 million people estimated to be without safe drinking water and 2.6 billion without access to sanitation.
Some Colorado organizations and businesses are already working in that direction.
Those organizations include Innovative Water Technologies, Engineers without Borders and Water for People. Read more of McIntyre’s article to find out what they do and how they got their start and check out their web pages to get involved.
In Colorado, we could not always take clean water as a given. For instance, a 1937 edition of the Holy Cross Trail in Red Cliff, Eagle County, addressed issues with typhoid outbreaks caused by dirty water and linked childhood paralysis (probably polio but the writer did not use that word) with water pollution. Causes were as simple as moving horses away from streams used for drinking water. A larger cause was 250,000 head of sheep grazing high up in the watershed. A great effort was made to move the sheep waste to another watershed. Not a great solution but it was a localized one. That was only 75 years ago.
Thanks Jim! Even today water quality in Colorado isn’t always a given, right? We may not face typhoid, polio and thousands of deaths by diarrhea– but it seems impossibly simple to imagine solving Colorado’s water quality issues, or those of other US states, today by relocating a large heard of sheep.
Thanks for the shout out.
Children are the ones who are being affected if the water source gets contaminated. They are more prone to acquiring illnesses due to their low immune system. This is very alarming that is why sources of water should be kept clean at all times.