Watching the World’s Water

Elise Mulder OsengaOriginal, Quick Looks, Water

Image of World Water Monitoring Day logo

Image of World Water Monitoring Day logoMore than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered in water, but the amount of water that is fresh, drinkable, and clean comes to a significantly lower amount. In an effort to promote water health outreach and education, the Water Environment Federation and the International Water Association have teamed up with a number of sponsors and partners to create World Water Monitoring Day (WWMD). Since 2009, WWMD has encouraged increased awareness of water health issues by offering water-quality testing kits, data, and stories about water education on its website.
The program is designed to be global in scope. In 2010, participants from 85 countries as geographically distant as Argentina, India, Vietnam and Zimbabwe submitted information about their local water bodies. To participate, interested monitors must register their local body of water and test it for temperature, acidity, turbidity (clarity) and dissolved oxygen. WWMD sells classroom and individual size testing kits for participants who wish to purchase them. Interested groups from low-income countries can request free kits, which are provided through donations from website visitors.
Although groups of all kinds are welcome to join WWMD, the program is intended to particularly offer information and tools to children’s classes. Once participants have conducted their tests, they can share their data and stories through the WWMD pages. Individuals who do not register to perform their own tests also are welcome to view results from previous years.
Glancing at the stories, it would seem that WWMD’s goal of raising awareness is working. The data reports offer interesting insight into water quality at various points on the globe.
For example, a class in Sandino, Cuba, concluded from their findings that the city’s river had been impacted by a recent pig-breeding development.
In Kol Kata, India. a class visited a polluted local pond. Garbage is routinely tossed into the water body and the class found dead animals near it. The water provides washing, drinking, and cooking water for the people living in nearby slums, and also is a habitat for many animals. Monitoring visits to this water body inspired the students to question why people did not take better care of this much-used water supply.
World Water Monitoring Day officially occurs on Sept. 18, but to encourage increased participation, data-gatherers are welcome to register and submit data for the year from March 22 through Dec. 21.