IWRA Webinar N° 56

Don’t WASTE Time: Managing Sanitation Systems to Protect Groundwater
17 November - 15:00 (CET)

November 19 is marked as World Toilet Day every year. It has been an annual United Nations Observance since 2013.

In line with this year’s World Toilet Day theme, IWRA organised a webinar that looked at the importance of safe sanitation systems to protect groundwater. According to UN Water, inadequate sanitation systems spread human waste into rivers, lakes and soil, contaminating the water resources under our feet. Safely managed sanitation protects groundwater from human waste pollution. Our three speakers focused on the connection between such safe sanitation practices, human rights, and groundwater, and discussed what actions can be taken to protect groundwater. Renée Martin-Nagle, IWRA’s treasurer, moderated the discussion.

This webinar had 432 registrants with attendees tuning in from many countries such as Bangladesh, Chile, Ghana, Hungary, Canada and many more.

Michael Campana, Professor of Hydrogeology & Water Resources Management at Oregon State University, emphasised the importance of managing safe sanitation systems in order to protect groundwater. Dr. Campana shared about his experience in Panamá and Honduras. In particular, he explained the importance of developing water supply well guidelines for use in developing countries as a means to also protect groundwater.

Amanda Loeffen, CEO from Human Right2Water, drew the connection between Sanitation and Groundwater for the audience. She shared some alarming statistics on the topic including that there are 3.6 billion people without quality toilets in the world, and that 800 children die from diarrhea every day. Loeffen iterated that while groundwater is invisible, it is still a major source of drinking water, and therefore should be protected by making toilets safely available for all.

Michel Frem, groundwater engineer and Chair to the UNESCO Groundwater Youth Network, emphasized the impacts that degraded groundwater has specifically on vulnerable populations. While groundwater accounts for 99% of all freshwater liquid on earth, our efforts to protect it will not go without return. Frem’s presentation ‘We’re not sitting around: the activation of youth for groundwater and sanitation’ emphasized the clear movement that the Groundwater Youth Network is taking to protect groundwater.

Presentations and Speakers:

  Moderated by:  Renée Martin-Nagle, Treasurer, IWRA

IWRA Webinars constitute an additional resource designed to help our members, academics, dedicated practitioners, and policy professionals further explore these and other timely themes engaging in fruitful discussions, also aligned with the international water agenda and in close collaboration with key partners.