March 22, 2017 is World Water Day, an annual occurrence to raise awareness about water issues and tackle obstacles to clean and abundant water for everyone. This year’s focus for World Water Day is on wastewater.

According to the United Nations, the world needs “to improve the collection and treatment of wastewater and safely reuse it. At the same time, we need to reduce the quantity and pollution load of wastewater we produce, to help protect the environment and our water resources.”

Facts According to the UN:

1. Globally, over 80% of the wastewater generated by society flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused. (Sato et al, 2013)

2. 1.8 billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated with faeces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. Unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene cause around 842,000 deaths each year. (WHO/UNICEF 2014/WHO 2014)

3. The opportunities from exploiting wastewater as a resource are enormous. Safely managed wastewater is an affordable and sustainable source of water, energy, nutrients and other recoverable materials.

This year’s World Water Day is also the start of a Vatican-led program called Watershed: Replenishing Water Values for a Thirsty World. Pope Francis launched this initiative during his Papal address earlier today. He is asking for a shift in how the world values its most precious resource: water. Learn more, see videos and get involved at Watershed’s Facebook site.

Pope Francis stated in Laudato Si, “Access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights. Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity.” (LS §30)

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