World Water Day, developed by the United Nations in 1993 and observed on March 22nd, is an opportunity for us to advocate for sustainable management of freshwater resources, locally and globally. Previous themes have included water scarcity, impacts of climate change, and better hand washing. The theme in 2022 is Groundwater: Making the invisible visible.
Freshwater is about 2.5% of all water on earth. Of that, 30% is groundwater, and only 1.2% is in lakes, rivers, and other surface water. Groundwater is critically important in the Sky Islands because streams and rivers are so rare. In the arid West, we have been using groundwater unsustainably.
Luckily there are solutions, including water conservation and protecting what groundwater we still have from pollution and other threats. There are also a number of programs throughout the Sky Islands to recharge our groundwater aquifers with grey water; as the water moves through hundreds or more feet of sand, gravel, and rock, any pollution that remains from the already well-filtered grey water is purified. Through a combination of actions, we can conserve and use water more sustainably throughout the Sky Island region.
So… what can you do? The first step to protecting freshwater is knowing where it is:
- Become a Spring Seeker. Springs are where groundwater emerges at the surface and becomes visible to us—acting like a window into our groundwater resources.
- Volunteer at a future Aravaipa Canyon Vinca removal event
- Donate to our Water Program, monitoring and restoring springs and waterways throughout the Sky Islands
- Join Flow365 (Watershed Management Group)
- Join Arizona Water Watch (Arizona Department of Environmental Quality)
It’s also important to advocate for freshwater protection when possible:
- Check out ADEQ’s Surface Water Protection and Groundwater Protection pages, watch for upcoming meetings, become educated about how surface water and groundwater laws are developing in Arizona
- Learn more about groundwater resources in Mexico and the work of the Comisión Nacional del Agua
- Check out WorldWaterDay.org for their 1 minute groundwater challenge!