Local groups raise awareness about limited access to drinking water on World Water Day

Local groups raise awareness about limited access to drinking water on World Water Day

Nearly one billion of the world’s poorest people lack the most basic resource: safe drinking water. By 2050, The Guardian reports that number is expected to rise to more than five billion due to growing demand, climate change, and pollution.

It’s a problem people around the globe are raising awareness for today, on World Water Day, including here in Madison. Tonight, city leaders will educate people about the wetland restoration project underway at the Capital Springs State Recreation area to restore 140 acres of wetlands locally.

But for some, the effort behind World Water Day will last longer than a day. Ten volunteers from Mount Horeb will head to Honduras this summer as part of a mission trip for Living Water International.

They’ll learn what life is like for people in Central America’s second poorest country, where one in ten people doesn’t have access to water. The group will build a water well for a small community there. It’s the group’s eighth mission trip to Central America.

Hundreds of millions of people around the world walk more than three and a half miles a day, each way, to get water.

Volunteers from Mount Horeb are hoping to do their part to put a dent in that number, when they spend a week there this summer.

“People who are in poverty lack access to clean water, but the people who have the means, people who have resources around the world, they have the opportunity for the funds and probably the technology and political power to change it,” said John Schmitt, Volunteer Advocate for Living Water International. “But, it just isn’t happening.”

There are many ways you can get involved. Schmitt said you can visit water.cc or his group’s, Living Water International, website. You can also make a difference by being aware of your own water use, and reduce if you can, realizing some people don’t have access to water.

“I don’t think most people know or understand it as a problem,” said Schmitt. “We live in Wisconsin where we have clean water very accessible. It’s a silent problem… a silent crisis that really impacts the people that live in poverty.”

One new well can transform a town for generations, once it’s built. Water is the most basic, necessary foundation for all sustainable development.

“Once they get clean water, then we want to make sure they have sanitation and clean hygiene, and when those things begin to happen, people can have better health, kids can go to school, there can be more economic vitality in a small community, and those things can begin to happen,” said Schmitt.

Thursday night, the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District is giving people tours to show them what happens to waste water and how it’s retreated and reused within the community.

The chief engineer and director of the sewerage district, Michael Mucha, said this year’s goal is to protect public health and the environment in Wisconsin. The city uses natural processes to recycle wastewater and reclaim valuable energy, nutrients, and treated water to return to area surface waters.

Tours begin at 5:15 p.m. at the maintenance facility on Moorland Road.

In May, Living Water International is hosting a “Walk for Water,” where people will walk from Grundahl Park to Stewart Lake with empty milk jugs or buckets, fill those containers up, and walk back.