Neda Simeonova is editorial director of Water & Wastes Digest. Simeonova can be reached at [email protected] or 847.391.1011.
Raising public awareness of water issues is essential to effective water resources management. It increases water conservation, and encourages long-term behavioral changes and protection of water resources by informing residents and businesses how to reduce the impacts of activities that lead to non-point source pollution and polluted runoff.
With water districts and utilities all over the country actively involved in public education campaigns, is public water awareness finally of the rise? I think the answer is most certainly yes.
Last week, The Wall Street Journal published an article about how “creative and quirky Casanovas” with the desire to come up with unique ways to surprise their dates for Valentine’s Day turned to a romantic tour of the local wastewater treatment plant.
According to the article, for the second consecutive year, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection offered tours of the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, located in Brooklyn's Greenpoint community. Apparently, demand for the tours this year was so high that three tours were scheduled, offering couples an informative overview of the plant’s operations, including a visit to the 120-ft-high observation deck located on top of the digester egg.
Water romantics are not alone. Celebrities are also getting on the bandwagon with creative campaigns. Last week, actor Matt Damon declared that he is on a “toilet strike” in an effort to highlight the lack of clean water and proper sanitation around the world in support of Water.org, a charity he co-founded. While his declaration was a joke, it drew national media attention and encouraged people to donate $25 to the cause.
Water and sanitation is not a joking matter; however, public awareness is key to ensuring high-quality water availabilities for generations to come.