World Water Day is recognized annually on March 22 – a worldwide recognition as proclaimed by the United Nations. The Church also acknowledges the importance of this day, and certainly reminds the faithful that water is precious and, indeed, sacramental.
Catholic Rural Life is grateful to one of our former Board members, Most Rev. Michael D. Pfeifer OMI, Bishop Emeritus of San Angelo, who faithfully wrote a reflection in respect to World Water Day. During his term of service with Catholic Rural Life, he made sure our program work stayed focused on water issues: clean water, accessible water for all, conservation of water, and a call for prayer during periods of drought in various regions of the country.
“These days call all of us to develop a new respect and appreciation for Mother Earth, Our Home, for all the gifts that we receive from the Earth, especially water that we, and all living things, need to survive,” says Bishop Pfeifer. Along with Earth Day a month later (April 22), Bishop Pfeifer asks us to celebrate these two ecological days for “the beauty and wonder of God’s creation which has its origin in a plan of love and truth.
World Water Day is also a time to see the connections between water and so much essential to our daily lives. These connections begin with our health, but also reach back to Nature: securing clean sources and conserving our supplies. Then we are connected again through urbanization and the extensive water supply system. This connects not only to our homes, but all of industry and energy production, and of course our food system. Water also connects us as human beings, or so God has commanded: “For I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink.”
So we are called, all of us, to manage water sources and distribution, guided by considerations for the common good of people everywhere and the natural systems of the planet itself. Bishop Pfeifer goes on to explain it this way:
Of all the precious gifts on planet Earth, water is a basic right and has a preeminent place as it is essential for all life. How we use our water involves choices we all make. All can choose to participate in preserving and protecting the gift of water. I present a practical way for this to happen as given in the manual Water: Yours, Mine, Ours* which presents a three-part strategy for taking better care of water: Conserve it, Capture it, and keep it Clean.
- Conserve water, which means changing our Water Culture from one that takes and uses water for granted and freely wastes it, to a New Water Culture that considers it priceless.
- Capture water by harvesting rain so as to achieve water independence even during drought times.
- Clean water, which means protecting the water underground and the water in our rivers and reservoirs by minimizing pollutants in our yards, on our rangeland and on our streets. Keeping water clean protects our health, reduces unnecessary purification costs and helps the whole environment.
Bishop Pfeifer concludes his reflection by saying that World Water Day invites all of us, wherever we live, to join in water conservation by saving water on a daily basis. He invites each of us to take the 40 Gallon Challenge and make the effort this year to start saving at least 40 gallons a day in our households.
“Our fundamental orientation toward the creative world should be one of gratitude and thankfulness,” Bishop Pfeifer counsels us. “The world, in fact, leads people back to the mystery of God who created all things and continues to sustain all things.”
* This user’s manual is produced by the Cow Creek Groundwater Conservation District, and is available for download on their Education page.