In 1993, a United Nations General Assembly resolution designated March 22 as World Day for Water, to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. Each year since then, World Water Day has focused on a different aspect of freshwater. This year, the 19th annual World Water Day, the Republic of South Africa is hosting a conference called Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge. The conference program brochure states that for the first time in human history most of the world’s population lives in cities: 3.3 billion people. The urban landscape continues to grow and 38% of the growth is represented by expanding slums. City populations are increasing faster than city infrastructure can adapt. The objective of WWD 2011 is to focus international attention on the impact of rapid urban population growth, industrialization and uncertainties caused by climate change, conflicts and natural disasters on urban water systems.
Internationally, nearly one billion people lack access to safe water and 2.5 billion do not have improved sanitation according to Water.org, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization committed to providing safe drinking water and sanitation to people in developing countries. And at the same time, the US Geological Survey estimates that the average American home uses between 80-100 gallons of water just for indoor use.
The Brooklyn Law School Library collection has Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It by Robert Jerome Glennon (Call #TD223 .G578 2009) which shows that the water crisis is not confined to the third world. This book has frightening and comical examples of how Americanws waste water from manufactured snow for tourists in Atlanta to trillions of gallons flushed down the toilet each year. State and local governments diverts supplies from one area to another to keep water flowing from the tap. Some time soon, water shortages will threaten not only the environment, but every aspect of American life: we face shuttered power plants and jobless workers, decimated fisheries and contaminated drinking water. New demands for water needed for ethanol and energy production, will only worsen the crisis. This book proposes market-based solutions that value water as both a commodity and a fundamental human right. When we recognize how valuable water is, we will begin to conserve it.