World Water Day
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World Water Day 2021: How You Can Help Protect the Planet’s Water

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Mar. 22 2021, Published 12:59 p.m. ET

Many of us take clean water for granted, but unfortunately, not everyone has access to it. According to the CDC, about 11 percent of the world's population is without access to clean water that's safe for consumption. Meanwhile, pollution and global warming take a massive toll on our planet's waterways, especially on our oceans, which affects biodiversity in more ways than one. For that reason, it's crucial to advocate for clean water.

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That said, organizations across the globe are currently making efforts to improve the quality of planet Earth's waterways, for the sake of humankind and all other life on our planet. Today, Monday, March 22 marks World Water Day — keep reading for more about the annual holiday, what it means to global populations, and how to get involved with ensuring our waterways stay clean.

sustainable water
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The theme for World Water Day 2021 is Valuing Water.

The theme of World Water Day 2021 is Valuing Water. According to WorldWaterDay.org, it specifically focuses on how all aspects of sustainable development rely on clean water, looking into how protecting our waterways affects how we hydrate and sanitize, handle wastewater, and protect the environment. Focusing on the viewpoints of different global populations would also make it easier for lawmakers to approach this matter equally and holistically.

That said, an official statement from the U.N. Secretary General, António Guterres, calls on over 160 countries to commit to advancing all water-related aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals, so the international organization can meet its clean water goals by 2030. However, that won't be the case unless we make some serious changes in terms of our relationship with the environment.

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un water
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U.N. Secretary General, António Guterres.

Why is water a sustainability issue?

The quality of drinking water and the well-being of marine life is affected by sustainability and global warming in a myriad of ways. Our reliance on non-biodegradable materials, specifically plastics, has lead to microplastics plaguing our oceans, lakes, and rivers. Meanwhile, power plants continuously dump toxic waste into waterways, affecting nearby communities and ecosystems; and polluted oceans impact undersea life as well as much of the food we eat.  

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With our heavy reliance on toxic, nonrenewable resources, things like oil spills, fracking, and pipelines continue to present huge environmental risks for waterways around the world, while government officials continuously cut corners and ultimately prevent marginalized and BIPOC communities from gaining access to clean water. As we said previously, clean drinking water should be a right, not a privilege, though it can be hard to find in many communities worldwide. 

Rising water temperatures, which are a result of global warming, are also killing off coral reefs, and therefore, full ecosystems. And, as rising water temperatures rise, so do the sea levels. This ultimately puts seaside communities, and eventually much of the planet, at risk for floods, if something isn't done soon to curb the ongoing climate crisis.

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waterways
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hildren dip their feet in the rising floodwaters along the Hawkesbury River in the township of Windsor on March 22, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. Evacuation warnings are in place for parts of Western Sydney as floodwaters continue to rise.

Here's how you can play your part in protecting the planet's water supply:

There are so many ways to do your part in conserving water. For example, you can simply work to save water at home by using your dishwasher the right way, turning off the faucet whenever possible, and more. There are also certain ways to ensure the products you're buying aren't affecting nearby waterways, such as laundry detergents, pesticides, and more.

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If you'd like to help fund sustainable water projects, however, there are many water-centric nonprofits you can donate to. Generosity.org helps communities worldwide gain access to clean water, while Blood:Water partners with African grassroots organizations to bring clean water and HIV/AIDS support to millions of people in 11 countries. Meanwhile, the Environmental Defense Fund protects oceans and waterways alike.

Water is so important for a variety of reasons, and it's dire that we protect it for the sake of humankind, and all life on earth.

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