Today, March 22, 2012, is World Water Day.

Today is a day to celebrate, appreciate and recognize the world’s waters. Today is a day to remember local watershed groups, City, County, Parks, and City Utilities leaders and all others who cooperatively conserve, restore and protect our water supplies.

World Water Day is also a day to become aware of water issues, not only here in the Ozarks, but around the country and the world. With less than 1% of the world’s fresh water available, supply for our expanding population is limited and not evenly distributed. World Water Day is coordinated by the Food and Agriculture Association of the Untied Nations and the focus of this year’s World Water Day is Water and Food Security.

The UN reports that 70% of the world’s overall water supplies are used for irrigation. According to the USDA, the United States uses 80% of its consumptive water use for agriculture. These astounding figures are a perfect example of how interconnected our water supply is to our food supply. Managing the water supplies of our nation and region is crucial and conserving irrigation technologies are essential. Water and Food Security is even more strongly related in developing countries with limited fresh water supplies.

Water quantity and quality is an issue that threads throughout communities and countries around the globe. A growing population needs more food and growing more food means using more water, making conservation and best management practices vital to future sustainability. Even though we live in the water rich Ozarks, our communities are not immune to water concerns. Leaders in Greene County, Christian County, and Jasper County, and the Tri-State Water Resources Coalition for example, are looking ahead at estimated population growth and water demand.

The Watershed Center, built by the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks, showcases ways we can meet future water challenges. The building uses minimal water and harvests rain water for reuse.  The site itself is designed to showcase practices that recharge our aquifers rather than cause stormwater runoff.

For more information about World Water Day, visit unwater.org. The site offers a wealth of information, including how much water is needed to produce our food, how global demand for food is evolving and how competition for water is increasing.

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