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.
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.