Since 1970, UConn staff members and students have periodically placed focus on a particular societal issue of great importance in a program known as a “metanoia.” Last semester’s metanoia centered on race relations while this semester’s focus is the environment and mankind’s relationship with it.
As the 2018 Spring Metanoia webpage states, “Many of the grave problems facing society in the 21st century are environmental in nature, including issues of sustainability, water availability, food security, deforestation and the loss of biodiversity. Because these problems are global, assuredly they will befall many nations and peoples that can least afford them.”
Among the many events spanning this metanoia, March 22 saw UConn’s observance of World Water Day, a celebration of freshwater started by the United Nations in 1993. The purpose of the day was to raise awareness about the importance of freshwater availability and the sustainability of freshwater resources. According to the World Water Day website, the specific focus of this year’s World Water Day was “‘Nature for Water’ – exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century.”
UConn’s observance of World Water Day was requested by professor Jack Clausen of the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment. Clausen has an extensive background in water, having received a Ph.D. and M.S. in forest hydrology and having published a book on the “proper designs of water quality monitoring studies.”
When asked about his views on the relevance and importance of World Water Day, Clausen said his goal was to get people on UConn’s campus talking about water conservation since it is often not a part of our daily lives.
“[In Connecticut], we generally do not get sick or die from drinking the water, although there are water quality problems here. And we generally do not experience major flooding that we see on the news in other part of the U.S. and the world,” Clausen said. “My goal was to increase awareness for the UConn community.”
In light of the holiday, students around campus shared how they use water and why clean water is important to them.
Second-semester engineering major Garrett Collins expressed his regrets over wasting water, considering the lack of clean water availability faced by other parts of the world like Cape Town, South Africa.
“I saw the ‘Stop the Drop’ signs all over the bathroom and it got me thinking… I’m here living my best life, washing my dishes with an abundance of hot, ready water just a tap away,” Collins said. “I thought, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t be using as much as I am right now. I could probably cut back a little more.’”
Second-semester digital media and design major Kyleigh Hillerud explained her thoughts on World Water Day in a broad, national sense.
“My personal belief is, I think water is a human right, and I think it’s silly that even in America we’re having crises like Flint, which is still going on today and is still an issue,” Hillerud said. “Wars could be started over water because it is such a vital [re]source and a lot of countries aren’t getting it. More awareness needs to be brought up because a lot of people don’t know these things.”
Water is something that all life must have, and we should all be invested in securing its availability for ourselves and our environment. Even if you were not aware of World Water Day, hopefully you will think more critically about your own water use and ways you could help contribute to this cause.
Evan Burns is campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.