An eye-opening experience on the universal need for clean water.
Last week, I had the opportunity to tour the regional public utility Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) with a group of young students who are a part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, a flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).
DMWW not only supplies water to Des Moines and city suburbs, but also to rural water suppliers in several surrounding counties. If you're drinking water in central Iowa, you're more than likely drinking water that was purified by DMWW.
The tour consisted of several stops at various buildings around the facility grounds with focus on activities taking place at each particular station in the water purification process including microbiology, chemistry, filtration, nitrate removal (chlorination)/fluoride injection, water storage, and distribution.
I was so grateful that we were able to join the YALI students because of their many insightful questions and observations. It was interesting to hear their perspectives and learn more about water issues in Africa. Some of the students reported that they have to carry chlorine tablets with them at all times because it is essential to chlorinate their drinking water before consumption.
One young man told me that he was surprised by how people in our country use water, especially for such non-essentials as lawns. He was shocked to learn that the same water that is purified for drinking was also used to irrigate a lawn for no other purpose than appearance.
When another member of the tour group asked if we implement gray water sources in this area, I was rather ashamed when they were informed it is quite uncommon. Since we do not have a water shortage in Iowa, most people in our area are unconcerned about water conservation and decreasing water usage.
This tour was such an excellent opportunity to learn more about the sources of our drinking water and how influential our water resources are on the amount and cost of water purification.
It was an eye-opener to be able to join this group of intelligent students and to hear about their different life experiences with something as essential as water.
It made me see how much I take for granted that whenever I turn on the faucet it will release clean, safe water for me and my family to drink.
The social and economic benefits of clean water.
There are many social and economic effects caused by a lack of clean water, not only in Africa but throughout the world.
According to the United Nations World Water Development Report 2016, “three out of four of the jobs worldwide are water-dependent. In fact, water shortages and lack of access may limit economic growth in the years to come … good access to drinking water and sanitation promotes an educated and healthy workforce, which constitutes an essential factor for sustained economic growth.”
Indeed, there are many economic benefits of improved water management and services, as this World Health Organization brief, “Making Water a Part of Economic Development,” illustrates: “Good management of water resources brings more certainty and efficiency in productivity across economic sectors and contributes to the health of the ecosystem. Taken together, these interventions lead to immediate and long-term economic, social and environmental benefits that make a difference to lives of billions of people.”
Why is water important to you?
Have you thought about how important water is to your life, work, and community? Does your job involve working with water? Let us know! Comment below or connect with Kuder on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
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