If you like the idea of your great-grandchildren having access to clean, safe drinking water, grab your calendar and set up a recurring reminder for March 22.

Today (and every March 22) is a particularly big day for two programs committed to generating awareness about the need to protect the world’s water resources. Not only is March 22 World Water Day, but it’s also the first day of the year the public is encouraged to test their local water bodies as part of World Water Monitoring Day (WWMD). And both programs (which are run by separate organizations) are very eager to enlist supporters for their worthy causes.

Eighty-one countries participated in World Water Monitoring Day 2009, including 571 Canadians who reported data from 49 sites.

World Water Monitoring Day

This education and outreach program engages citizens around the world to conduct basic testing of their local water bodies. The objective is to increase awareness about water quality and encourage people to take an active role. An easy-to-use kit enables people of all ages to sample for a core of basic water quality parameters such as temperature, pH, turbidity and dissolved oxygen.

More than 120,000 people from 81 countries took part in the WWMD program in 2009—a 67 per cent increase over the previous year.

The WWMD water testing period runs from March 22 to December 31 each year. Participants are encouraged to upload their results via the Internet. The aggregated water quality results are made public each year on the program website.

The 2009 report, which was released in mid-February, shows that while Canada’s number of participants (571) nearly doubled from the year before, our country still lags behind countries like Chile (607 participants), India (2,940 participants), Cameroon (959 participants) and the United States (27,387 participants). The sizable increase in Canadian participation in 2009 is due in large part to the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA), which became a WWMD program partner last year. The Agency, Ontario’s largest operator of water and wastewater treatment facilities, helped promote the program and distributed 250 testing kits in communities throughout the province. OCWA is serving as a WWMD program partner again in 2010.

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To learn more or to find out how to participate, click here.

World Water Day

In 1992, the UN General Assembly selected March 22 as World Water Day—an international observance of the importance of water quality and a day to help raise awareness of water quality issues around the globe. Today, there are 1.1 billion people who rely on unsafe drinking water sources. World Water Day was created in the hopes of raising the profile of water quality to the political level to help encourage politicians to consider matters of water quality when developing policies.

The theme for World Water Day 2010 is Clean Water for a Healthy World. As the organizing body, the UN Water Group has taken the lead to organize local events to help improve water, sanitation and hygiene in locations around the world.

A listing of events planned for 2010 can be found here.

Find more World Water Day news and features here.

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