Problems, plans discussed at World Water Day gathering

Clean drinking water is scarce, and no one knows this better than Director of the Friends of the United Nations Irving Sarnoff and a panel of eight experts on water conservation and sanitation.

On Friday, the panel discussed some of these problems and more for the 13th annual World Water Day.

World Water Day grew out of a U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

A mix of about 30 students, professors and other professionals attended the discussion in the College of Education Building.

The lecture’s keynote speaker was Sarnoff, who brought up many interesting but unsettling facts about water use.

“Every eight seconds a child dies of a water-related disease,” Sarnoff said.

He added that 1.2 billion people don’t have access to clean water.

Sarnoff said the world’s water dependence is so severe that by 2020 nearly 50 nations will suffer water storages, and by 2030 many cities that have been around for centuries will dry up.

But according to Sarnoff, there’s still hope.

The United Nations is working to help people of the world access clean drinking water. This is one of the goals of the little-known Millennium Development Act.

But according to Sarnoff, their resources are limited; the U.N.’s budget is less than New York City’s sanitation budget.

The president of the USF chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World, Joniqua Howard, brought up many instances of water and energy wastefulness just on USF’s campus.

“When you see the sprinklers (on campus), are they watering the grass or the sidewalk?” Howard said. “Or when you go to the Library are you freezing? And why are the lights on continuously?”

Engineers for a Sustainable World is an international group of students and professionals, and one the issues it is involved in is helping with the global water problem.

“I thought it was very well done,” USF chemical engineering student James Hudson said. “I found the panel discussion very interesting. I wish it had been longer.”

Even though water sanitation is a problem throughout the world, professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Noreen Poor said there are many ways for students to get involved.

Poor recommended the Rotary International organization, which is a group that travels to many countries around the world as ambassadors.

According to the Rotary International Web site, its members develop community service projects that address such issues as children at risk, poverty and hunger, the environment, illiteracy and violence.