TWM Contributor: Elke Boyd, PE, BCEE
Water Infrastructure Project Manager

World Water Day: Accelerating Change to Solve the Water & Sanitation Crisis

World Water Day is the United Nations annual observance of the importance of water. Every year, March 22nd is used to raise awareness and inspire action to tackle the water and sanitation crisis. In 2015, the world committed to the goal that everyone would have safely managed water and sanitation by 2030. Right now, we are seriously off-track.

What Constitutes the Crisis?
Dysfunction throughout the water cycle is undermining progress on all major global issues, from health to hunger, gender equality to jobs, education to industry, disasters to peace.

  • 4 million people die annually by diseases related to poor water, sanitation and hygiene.
  • 1 in 4 people – 2 billion individuals – around the world lack safe drinking water.
  • Almost half of the global population – 3.6 billion people – lack safe sanitation.
  • Globally, 44% of household wastewater is not safely treated.
  • Wetlands are being drained for agriculture, with more than 50% lost since 1900.
  • Global water demand is projected to increase 55% by 2050.
  • Power plant cooling is responsible for 43% of total freshwater withdrawals in Europe and nearly 50% in the USA.
  • Only 34% of monitored water bodies in the USA have good ambient water quality.

What are the Solutions?
The UN has scheduled the first UN Water Conference since 1977 for March 22-24, 2023 in New York. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the world to commit to new partnerships and promises that will result in rapid action. Commitments will form the Water Action Agenda to drive progress into the future. You can find out more about the Conference at

What can You do to Accelerate the Change?
There is an ancient Peruvian story about a hummingbird that symbolizes how we react to a crisis:

“One day in the forest, a fire broke out. All the animals ran for their lives. They stood at the edge of the blaze, looking at the flames in terror and sadness. Up above their heads, a hummingbird was flying back and forth to the fire, over and over again. The bigger animals asked the hummingbird what she was doing. “I am flying to the lake to get water to help put out the fire.” The animals laughed at her and said, “You can’t put out this fire!” The hummingbird replied, “I’m doing what I can.”

Throughout most of the USA, we are among the lucky people in this world to have water, wastewater, and stormwater utility administrators, planners, and workers to protect our health and well-being. And because water affects us all, we need everyone to act. You and your family, school, and community can make a difference by changing the way you use, consume, and manage water in your lives. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Write to your elected representatives about budgets for improving water and wastewater treatment.
  • Fix leaking water and wastewater pipes, empty full septic tanks, and report dumping.
  • Don’t put food waste, oils, medicines, and chemicals down the toilet or drains.
  • Organize or take part in clean-ups of local streams, lakes, wetlands, or shorelines.
  • Plant native trees or create raingardens to reduce flooding and store water.
  • Organize an event in a local school, university, community, office, or organization.
  • Post World Water Day social media assets using #WorldWaterDay to generate debate and raise awareness for world leaders.
  • Support the annual Missouri American Water MR340, the longest uninterrupted non-motorized river race in the world. This year’s event is scheduled for August 1-4, 2023 on the Missouri River from Kansas City to St. Charles. The race is organized by Missouri River Relief.
  • Create and share your own action list at

Just like the hummingbird, the actions we take – no matter how small – can help solve the water crisis. For more ideas, check out

TWM shares your care for the environment. As a 100% employee-owned firm with a 75+ year history, we provide engineering, surveying, and geospatial services to the public and private sector. Our Water Infrastructure Services are devoted to the protection of our waters. This includes providing clean drinking water, making sure the water we use is returned to the environment cleanly, and ensuring that our streams maintain their health and beauty.

Because our waterways are some of the most critical parts of the natural environment, discharges in the USA are heavily regulated. TWM provides services related to wastewater from the time it goes down the drain to its discharge to the environment fully treated. Our staff also help ensure that our communities have clean drinking water. Our most common drinking water project involves replacement of aging pipes. Our more visible projects include water towers, ground storage tanks, and treatment facilities. TWM’s stormwater management services help protect our fragile waterways while also providing homes, businesses, and recreation areas safety from flooding.

We help our clients navigate these projects from planning through construction and assist in obtaining funding, as needed. We focus on cost savings, sustainability, and long-term value on every project.

While TWM is honored to join forces with our clients to protect the environment, we’re even more proud to have so many team members who desire to be part of the solution. Thank you to all who are doing their parts to protect our water!

To learn more, check out these sources:

Read more about our Water/Wastewater services.