Walk for Water PDX

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Walk for Water PDX was a great and rainy success!  My friend Kim (FU alum living in Portland) and I joined PHLUSH on the 3.1 mile walk today in downtown Portland; my coworker Abby invited me to join them as she works with PHLUSH.  From their website:

Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human. PHLUSH believes that toilet availability is a human right and that well-designed sanitation facilities restore health to our cities, our waters and our soils.  Our grassroots, all-volunteer advocacy group is based in Portland’s Old Town Chinatown.  We collaborate with grass roots organizations, environmental activists, planners, architects, code officials and city managers.

I already posted about UN World Water Day this week so I won’t repeat details but wanted to share some photos from the event.  We walked 3.1 miles, the average distance that a person in the developing world travels daily to get clean water for cooking, bathing and drinking.  We carried buckets filled with water and while my arms feel like jelly right now, it truly was an eye opening experience to carry a half-filled water bucket.  Many of the women and children who carry water for their families daily walk in through dangerous areas, without proper footwear or protection from weather.  A humbling and exhausting experience; so glad I was able to meet some great new people and make myself more aware and involved in the global water crisis.


World Water Day 2011

The 2011 logo for UN World Water Day

Happy (almost) World Water Day 2011!   The international observance of World Water Day is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro.  From the World Water Day 2011 website:

International World Water Day is held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day.

As a global community, we are facing a water crisis.  Approximately 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water, and each year more than 2.2 million people in developing countries die from preventable water-born illnesses.  Some other fast water facts:

  • This is the first time in human history that most of the world’s population live in cities: 3.3 billion people …and the urban landscape continues to grow.
  • 38% of the growth is represented by expanding slums, while the city populations are increasing faster than city infrastructure can adapt.
  • In Africa and Asia, the urban population will DOUBLE between 2000 and 2030
  • 5 million residents are joining the urban population in developing nations each MONTH
  • Every SECOND the urban population grows by two people
  • 827.6 million people live in slums, lacking basic access to clean water and sanitation

So, what do we do about this?  I’m walking this Sunday in the Walk for Water PDX event in Portland OR:

For a $20 donation to Portland Global Initiatives, Walk for Water participants will simulate what it is like to gather water for much of the world by walking a 3-mile course (the average distance traveled in sub-Saharan Africa to obtain water) alongside the Willamette River.

Be more conscious of HOW you use water; A Greener State of Mind has some great tips to get you started:

  1. The general consensus is that dishwashers are usually more efficient than washing dishes by hand. But if you don’t have a dishwasher (me), don’t let the water run while rinsing. Fill one sink with wash water and the other with rinse water.
  2. Shorten your shower by a minute or two and you’ll save up to 150 gallons per month. Consider low-flow shower heads (your shower should not fill a 1-gallon bucket in less than 20 seconds), or a timer/water meter so you’re aware of how much you’re actually using. While you’re at it, bring your tooth brush and face wash in the shower too, get it all done at once!
  3. Using a refillable water bottle, besides saving on plastic, also cuts down on the number of glasses you’ll have wash at the end of the day. And keep a pitcher of water in the fridge; you’re more likely to spill if you refill from the tap.
  4. Use a commercial car wash instead of doing your own in your driveway. Car washes are regulated in the ways they dispose of or reuse waste chemicals and runoff, whereas our water heads straight for the storm drain and eventually into the ocean.
  5. This was probably the first ‘save water’ tip I learned when I was little, but it still should be said: turning off the water while brushing your teeth will save 25 gallons a month on average.
  6. If you have houseplants, use water that runs from the sink while waiting for hot water, from rinsing fruits and veggies, or even cleaning your fish tank.
  7. Cooking tip: Re-use the water left over from cooked or steamed foods to start a delicious and nutritious soup. I actually save the water leftover from cooking pasta to create a delicious sauce, it’s one of my go-to meals.

Check out what events might be happening in your area on the World Water Day 2011 website.  Water sustains us, it gives us life.  Water makes the world go round!  Celebrate water, use it well!