March 22nd every year is observed by the United Nations as World Water Day.
It is a day to recognise and promote the vital importance of freshwater to people around the world and the essential role that access to clean drinking water plays in ending poverty. The UN created this annual international observance to encourage education about and action on water related issues.
- Globally, over 80% of the wastewater generated by society flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused. (Sato et al, 2013)
- 1.8 billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated with faeces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. Unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene cause around 842,000 deaths each year. (WHO/UNICEF 2014/WHO 2014)
- The opportunities from exploiting wastewater as a resource are enormous. Safely managed wastewater is an affordable and sustainable source of water, energy, nutrients and other recoverable materials.
This important day is coordinated by UN Water, who have chosen the theme for World Water Day 2017, “why wastewater?” The theme draws attention to the fact that the majority of wastewater produced by people flows back into the environment, acting as a pollutant. UN Water’s message for World Water Day 2017 is that we should be reducing and reusing wastewater, to help achieve Sustainable Development Goal #6, “Ensure access to water and sanitation for all.”
For more information about World Water Day and issues surrounding water access and the uses of wastewater, head to:
UN Water website (for information on the work of the United Nations on freshwater related issues)
World Health Organisation (WHO) World Water Day webpage (for information on WHO’s activities in the field of water, sanitation and hygiene)