JJ Levenstein

13 Steps We Can All Take To Keep Our Water Healthy

JJ Levenstein
13 Steps We Can All Take To Keep Our Water Healthy

Hi, it’s Dr. JJ here, and on March 22, all around the world, we will celebrate WORLD WATER DAY!

What is World Water Day?

World Water Day, on 22 March every year, is about focusing attention on the importance of water. The theme for World Water Day 2018 is ‘Nature for Water’ – exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century.

Damaged ecosystems affect the quantity and quality of water available for human consumption. Today, 2.1 billion people live without safe drinking water at home; affecting their health, education and livelihoods. When water is scarce or in short supply, or polluted with germs, industrial waste, pesticides or heavy metals, humans suffer. Dehydration, infectious disease, lead poisoning, drought, crop loss and even death are some of the consequences of an unsafe water supply.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6 commits the world to ensuring that everyone has access to safe water by 2030, and includes targets on protecting the natural environment and reducing pollution.


In just a few days, I’m traveling to Chicago for a conference, and I have the pleasure of staying in a hotel overlooking the historic Chicago River. This river forms a link between the Great Lakes  and The Mighty Mississippi. So one can imagine this scenic waterway has the potential to move more than boats – pollution, contagion, lead, contaminated wastewater and topsoil, along with trash and other manmade hazards can make their way down to the Gulf of Mexico, stopping  to pick up more disastrous hitchhikers along the way. Imagine what all that does to local drinking water, public health and the fragile ecosystems that exist along its course.

The water problems we face are complex and urgent. The only way to create a healthier future is for everyone to do their part. We must use less water and preserve our existing water sources.

There are actions that each of us can take at home, online, and outside to reduce our own impacts.

5 Simple Things You Can Do at Home:

Run washing machines & dishwashers only when they’re full. Large loads = less water used. And save energy by turning off the auto-dry setting and letting your dishes dry naturally.

Keeping a timer in your bathroom will help you take a shorter shower. And please turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth. All that perfectly clean tap water is just going down the drain.

Turn off lights and unplug chargers. Water is used in all forms of energy generation. It can take over 4 gallons of water to keep a 60-watt light bulb lit for 12 hours.

Use biodegradable cleaning products. The water that goes down your drains will eventually flow into streams and bays.

Skip meat for one meal a week. It can take about 600 gallons of water to produce a hamburger. (Think of all the grain that’s grown to feed the cattle.) and stop drinking sugar-containing beverages and sodas – corn’s #1 reason for being is corn syrup, not consumption of the actual corn.

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3 Simple Things You Can Do Online:

Use social media to spread the word about the need to save water and save our water sources. Challenge your friends to match the actions you take, and share the hashtag #WorldWaterDay on March 22.

Find out where your water comes from and urge others to do the same. Knowledge is power.

Use social media to ask your favorite brands what they’re doing to reduce their water use and their impact on water resources.


5 Simple Things You Can Do Outside:

Plant a tree in your yard or a friend’s yard. Trees help keep soil in place – rather than flowing into our streams and lakes – and help slow water down, reducing flooding and enabling more rainwater to trickle down into groundwater supplies. 

Take these steps to reduce your impact when it comes to your own yard and lawn: 

  • Water your lawn or garden in the morning or the evening when the water will evaporate less rapidly.
  • Adjust sprinklers to avoid the pointless watering of sidewalks or paved areas.
  • Limit pesticide use. Pesticides are the only substances we intentionally introduce into our environment to kill living things, and besides being potentially dangerous to people, pets and wildlife, they’ll eventually be carried into our freshwater supply by runoff.
  • Sweep patios and sidewalks rather than hosing them, which wastes water and carries contaminants into freshwater systems.
  • If you are renovating a home built before 1978, assume there is lead in the house dust, perhaps in the pipes, paint, and even in old fixtures in the house. Make sure you check with your local health department or EPA to arrange for safe disposal – otherwise your construction trash may end up in a landfill, polluting the soil and ultimately any water running nearby.

Make sure your hiking gear is free of plant matter when you head out into nature. Seeds of invasive plant species can hitch a ride on boots. Invasive species can cause many water problems, including absorbing more water than native species and sending erosion and bacteria into rivers and lakes.

Volunteer for a stream-clean up or wetland restoration event.

Take someone on a hike near a river or lake – or better yet, get in or on the water – swimming, kayaking, canoeing, etc. People protect things they care about. 


And be sure to tune into my Facebook Live, filmed March 19 in Chicago, for even more about World Water Day. Here's the link: