March 22: World Water Day

Written on: March 22, 2013

March 22 is World Water Day. This year it is just one week before Good Friday when we hear those pleading words of Jesus from the cross, “I thirst” and eight days before the Easter vigil when we bless the water that will be used to celebrate the sacrament of Baptism and we hear the story of Moses parting the waters of the Sea of Reeds. Water is life and the painful fact is that in 2012, over 700 million people in the world lacked access to clean drinking water. Other facts equally astounding include:

3.6 million people die every year from water related diseases.

4,000 children die every day from diseases caused by poor water, sanitation and hygiene.

By 2025, 800 million people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world population could be under stress conditions.

Climate change, with increasing frequency and severity of floods and droughts, already impacts those in poverty in countries such as Bangladesh and Ethiopia.

“By its very nature water cannot be treated as just another commodity among many, and it must be used rationally and in solidarity with others. The distribution of water is traditionally among the responsibilities that fall to public agencies, since water is considered a public good. If water distribution is entrusted to the private sector it should still be considered a public good. The right to water, as all human rights, finds its basis in human dignity and not in any kind of merely quantitative assessment that considers water as a merely economic good. Without water, life is threatened. Therefore, the right to safe drinking water is a universal and inalienable right.” Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 2004.

Having said all this we are left with the question of what to do? As always education, which brings awareness, is the first step.

  1. Check out the Great Lakes Water Compact at to see what the eight states bordering the Lakes are doing.
  2.  See the The Water-Food Equation produced from a powerpoint by Education for Justice and enjoy learning from the slide show “How Much Water Does it Take to Make Your Dinner?”
  3. Finally, you could pray each day as you turn on the faucet for the first time, “Heart of Jesus font of life and holiness, satisfy our thirst for living waters.” This was suggested by the Eco-Spirituality group at their annual retreat two years ago.

Whatever you choose to do may it help us never to take the gift of water for granted or thoughtlessly waste it.

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