World Water Day: California Students March for Water

LOS ANGELES, California, March 19, 2009 (ENS) – In observance of World Water Day on March 22, hundreds of students from Los Angeles schools will join activists and concerned residents for a community March for Water to increase public awareness of the water crisis in California and around the world.

The march begins at LA State Historic Park on Baker Street in Los Angeles and ends three miles later at Rio de Los Angeles State Park on San Fernando Road.

A coalition of community-based organizations and environmental justice groups organized the march, including Urban Semillas, Anahuak Youth Sports Association, Green LA Coalition, Food and Water Watch, Southern California Watershed Alliance, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, the Sierra Club and Heal the Bay.

A woman carries two water jugs on her head in the village of Maholi, Madhya Pradesh, India. (Photo by dct-pix)

Organizers say the march is three miles long, because that is the average distance that millions of people worldwide walk every day to fetch water and carry it back home. In an act of symbolic solidarity, many marchers will carry water jugs on their heads.

Students from two area high schools, two community colleges and five elementary schools will carry banners representing their schools and expressing their feelings about water.

World Water Day is an international day of observance and action to draw attention to the plight of the more than one billion people worldwide who lack access to clean, safe drinking water. World Water Day was designated in 1992 by a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly.

The United Nations estimates that if current trends continue, within 15 years, half of the world’s population is likely to face water shortages. Even relatively prosperous California is facing a crisis of water sustainability.

In Los Angeles, coalition organizers are trying to raise public awareness of the tough realities of a world where water is scarce. The average person in the developing world uses 2.64 gallons of water a day, they point out, while the average person in the United States uses between 100 and 175 gallons every day at home.

An estimated 25 percent of people from cities in developing countries purchase their water from vendors at a significantly higher price than piped water. In some cases, at the cost of more than a quarter of their household incomes.

Marchers will draw attention to water’s importance for the planet and the local environment, and urge Los Angeles residents to take action to stop the waste, abuse and mismanagement of water resources.

“It’s inspiring to see so many wanting to take action and willing to learn more about our current water crisis.” said Miguel Luna, one of the March Coalition members. “With our water future in such uncertainty, it is uplifting to see the youth ensuring participation on the issues of water, land management and ecological rehabilitation.”

The march culminates in a water fair, with live music, food and information about ways to take action.

The event is endorsed by the Office of the Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, City Councilmember Ed Reyes, Assemblymember Kevin De Leon and State Senator Alex Padilla.

Land once underwater is exposed as Lake Shasta in northern California dries up. November 11, 2008. (Photo by Andi Hazelwood)

“California is in the midst of a crisis that threatens to cripple our economy and quality of life,” said Lester Snow, director of the California Department of Water Resources. “In this third dry year, Californians must step up water conservation efforts, and we must utilize water transfers to alleviate impacts. Yet another dry year also points to the need for long term investment in our state’s water management infrastructure.”

Late winter storms increased snowpack to near 90 percent of normal, but Snow says water storage in the state’s major reservoirs and runoff projections remain well below average.

On February 27, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed a state of emergency and ordered a range of actions to manage the drought crisis. The Governor urged Californians to prepare for worsening drought and requested that all urban users reduce their water use by 20 percent.

On Sunday, activities across the country and around the world will focus on supplying clean, easily accessible water to those in need.

In San Diego, the Thirsty for Change Benefit Jam Presented by UNICEF’s Tap Project and is happening at The Belly Up, featuring Timmy Curran, Alex Woodard, and Astra Kelly. Show time 4 pm. Located in Solana Beach, The Belly Up was voted San Diego’s Best Live Music Venue.

In Seattle, a World Water Day Walk will take place on Alki Beach from 10 am to raise awareness about world water issues.

In New York City, UNICEF will host the NYC Tap Project Water Walk on March 22, a one-mile walk for young people and their families, schools and communities to help raise awareness and support for children worldwide who suffer from a lack of clean water. Participants will carry up to one gallon of water in a gesture of solidarity with those who must collect and carry water daily.

Global events include a Team Blue 6K Walk for Water Day sponsored by the Blue Planet Run Foundation. The foundation funds water projects such as rainwater harvesting, bore holes and hand pumps through its Peer Water Exchange.

For a complete worldwide list of World Water Day events with contact details, click here.

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