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Reflections on World Water Day

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Here at EDM Digest, we talk about water a lot. There's a very good reason for that. Consider two of the other most significant threats to our civilization and way of life:

The Electromagnetic Pulse would likely not kill many people, so much as it would wipe out all record of our existence for future civilizations--because we don't carve records of our existence in stone. Since the digital age began, we carve our records in electrons. Bye bye future history.

Climate Change is slow and insidious. It doesn't often kill directly either--instead it sends its minions, such as stronger storms, drought, heat waves, etc., to kill for it.

Lack of clean fresh water is different--when you run out of water, you die. When you drink unclean water, you die. When either of these circumstances strikes you, you will choose to run. So warnings about water depletion, overuse, and pollution take on a more immediate urgency. Here are some of our perspectives from past blog inputs:

So you can see, the issues have been much on our minds. In the bottom line, we have too little water, we're using too much of it, and we're polluting the rest. Not a fun scenario.

World Water Day was founded to bring attention to these issues and spur people, organizations, and governments to do something about them before it's too late. It is held on March 22nd of every year. Enclosed on the site is a list of international organizations that are doing great works to help humankind recognize and deal with the problems.

We have some awesome folks in the US doing the same. Here are a sample of organizations and events that are dedicated to making this all turn out right:

To understand the breadth and seriousness of the situation, have a look at the facts and figures provided by the Smithsonian Institution.

The Natural Resources Defense Council considers water resources to be a critical part of their mission. In their words:

NDRC experts are helping to secure safe and sufficient water for people and the environment by:

Promoting water efficiency strategies to help decrease the amount of water wasted;

Protecting our water from pollution by defending the Clean Water Act and advocating for solutions like green infrastructure;

Helping prepare cities, counties and states for water-related challenges they will face as a result of climate change; and

Ensuring that waterways have enough water to support vibrant aquatic ecosystems.

Water.org is an advocacy, education, and funding group:

Water doesn't just keep us alive, it gives us everything that makes life worth living. Take a moment to celebrate all the good things that water gives.

Similarly, WaterAid.org encourages us to:

Every minute, every day, people suffer and lives are lost needlessly because of a lack of safe water and sanitation. Help us end this global crisis and transform lives.

Also, WaterDefense.org:

Our mission is to use technology and public engagement to keep our waterways and drinking water sources free from contamination and industrial degradation. 

This is a short list from a couple of Internet searches. The list of folks working on water issues goes on and on.

The message to emergency managers is this: you can run your organization efficiently and effectively; you can advocate for budgets that will support and improve your operational capabilities; you can prepare and mitigate with great foresight; you can respond with heroic competence when it all hits the fan.

But there are circumstances where that won't be enough. Protecting and defending our access to adequate quantities of clean water for ourselves and future generations is one of those circumstances. To make an impact on this issue, you're going to have to become proactive and ADVOCATE.

  • You need to learn how these issues will specifically impact your community
  • You need to educate your served public on these issues
  • You need to educate your political leadership on these issues
  • You need to stretch your vision of what constitutes emergency management to include becoming involved in all these activities
  • And lastly, it's clear that this initiative is important enough to issue an all-hands-on-deck call to action. Accordingly, you need to pick an organization like the ones featured above and participate. It's time to get your hands dirty, and hopefully wet, in our quest to save our water resources for future generations.

So go do. And good luck--we're all going to need it.

Randall Cuthbert Dr. Randall Cuthbert is a retired APUS Professor of Emergency & Disaster Management. He has also worked as a Red Cross Shelter Supervisor, and spent a 20-year career as a US Air Force Civil Engineer Officer. His blogging interests include: protecting & enhancing the EDM profession in the areas of integrity, honorable public service, and social justice; education regarding the 'big picture' role of EDM in our society; educating our professionals and neighbors with regard to the greatest threat to our civilization--climate change; and in general terms, creating a better world for our children and grandchildren.