I am not the best example of a person who likes to get involved in charity work I have little personal experience with. Breast Cancer? I am so there, but I know people that have/ had breast cancer. I have walked for Lymphoma, but I lost a friend to it. I am a big advocate for Save the Music and any music related charities, but I am directly involved in the music community.

So why the heck would I want to get involved over something like water? Sure, I drink it, I love it! I drink multiple Fiji waters a day and yet have no personal ties to those less fortunate. So why the change of heart?

This past weekend I went snowboarding in Mammoth. The base was 116 inches, there was not a cloud in the sky, the weather was perfect, and I was in heaven. After a good couple of hours I found myself to be near the McCoy lodge, about 45 minutes away from the base. I was thirsty as hell as I had forgotten to pack a camel pack. All I could think about was getting down to the base to replenish my eager body. I sat down on the snow to rest my tired legs and slowly noticed my mouth starting to get dry. I needed water and I needed it bad. A headache was forming, I was getting dizzy and there was no way I could function down the mountain at the rate I was going. Finally, I decided to hell with it and grabbed a big handful of snow with my dirty mittens and shoved it in my mouth.

Note to self: Look at the snow before you shove it in your mouth.

I won’t go into sordid details. All you need to know is that snow was not white. Please use your imaginations. Please try not to gag.

A very long painful hour later, I sat at Canyon Lodge guzzling two $3.00 bottles of water, almost sick to my stomach. It was then that it dawned on me how spoiled and ungrateful I really am. I go without water for four hours while snowboarding and feel so sick I force myself to eat yellow (yeah I know) snow, gag, feel sick, get a migraine, and want to pass out; but so many others in this world live through this lack every day.

After that experience, I figure it might be best to try to get the word out about something we all take for granted every day. We might think we have an abundance of water, but only 1% of the earth’s water is drinkable. (hello yellow snow). In fact, nearly 1.1 billion people (about 20% of the worlds population) lack clean safe drinking water. According to UNICEF, this problem isn’t confined to a particular region of the world. A third of the Earth’s population lives in “water stressed” countries and that number is expected to rise dramatically over the next two decades. The crisis is worst in developing countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Fortunately, The United Nations passed a resolution in 1992 designating March 22nd, World Water Day. World Water Day is recognized in over 69 cities in the US, and many, including my beautiful home of San Diego, are hosting events to help raise money and awareness towards this crisis we seem to pay little attention to.

But, what does that mean to us? How can we, and by “we” I mean those of us who live in the land of plenty of Evian, Fiji and clean tap water, help? It starts with awareness. If we can raise awareness then we can do something. From awareness, it starts with offering what we can.

Please go to WorldWaterDay.net to learn more about this day and what you can do to help. You can also visit the designated Myspace and Facebook pages to join with others who are paying attention and raising awareness.

Another great way to get involved, and eat awesome food while doing it, is by participating in Tap Project. Beginning Sunday, March 16 through Saturday, March 22, participating restaurants will invite their customers to donate a minimum of $1 for the tap water they would normally get for free. For every dollar raised, a child will have clean drinking water for 40 days. Please go to Tapproject.org to find restaurants near you that are participating in water conservation efforts.

If you live in the LA you can join in on a walk at the Santa Monica Pier.

If you live in San Diego, make sure to hit up On Broadway on March 22nd for the Water For Life Benefit.

If you live in other cities, please check the websites for local events and walks in your area. You can also join the “virtual walk,” a very cool idea that you can read about online.

  • Thanks for posting this Rachel! Water is a precious resource that is so easy for us to take for granted.

    You’re right, only 1% of the earth’s water is drinkable for us, the rest is salt water. But out of that 1% – 98% of that is underground, only 2% is surface water, leaving only 0.02% in our lakes and streams for us to drink!

    Also, a few months back I read an article in Fast Company that states: “… in Fiji, a state-of-the-art factory spins out more than a million bottles a day of the hippest bottled water on the U.S. market today, while more than half the people in Fiji do not have safe, reliable drinking water. Which means it is easier for the typical American in Beverly Hills or Baltimore to get a drink of safe, pure, refreshing Fiji water than it is for most people in Fiji.”

    I haven’t touched any Fiji water, or much bottled water for that matter since I read that.

    Here’s the article online: http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/117/features-message-in-a-bottle.html

  • Chuck Longanecker

    Great post Rachel! I will be thinking of you next time I make yellow snow 🙂

    Another thing to consider is the state of quality of water after we use it. We already have a small supply of drinking water, but it’s even more crucial to make sure the water we use is treatable and thus reusable.

    Environmentally friendly detergents, dishwasher soap and other cleaners keep your outgoing water supply treatable. In addition you should always avoid dumping things down the drain that you would not drink.

  • Water is such a precious commodity. The British Red Cross states “every 20 seconds worldwide, a child dies as a result of poor sanitation. That’s 1.5 million preventable deaths each year.”

    This year, for World Water Day, the British Red Cross is sharing diaries of children around the world, looking at how they use water – with the intention of making people aware what a precious resource clean water is.

    See http://www.redcross.org.uk/news.asp?id=77523 for more information.