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Eight 'Pacific Standard' Stories for World Water Day

Highlighting the exploration of solutions to today's water challenges, and the people working toward global water security.
A jug of purified water, reinforcing the ongoing role of the Water Protectors.

A jug of purified water, reinforcing the ongoing role of the Water Protectors.

Today is World Water Day, a time to remind global communities of the importance of clean and accessible fresh water. Now in its 25th year, World Water Day marks an opportunity for "concrete activities such as the promotion of public awareness."

Every year features a designated theme in concordance with current challenges of water sustainability preservation. The 2018 theme, "Nature for Water," seeks to explore nature-based challenges experienced in the 21st century. We depend on water for energy, sanitation, and survival, yet it can cause mass destruction: Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria left huge swaths of the United States and its territories flooded and economically crippled; meanwhile places like Cape Town and São Paulo sit on the edge of drought.

In honor of World Water Day, these eight Pacific Standard stories highlight the history that has shaped the way we think about and use water, the exploration of solutions to today's water challenges, and the people working toward greater water security and safety.

  • A writer living in Cape Town grapples with the reality of South Africa's drought and what it means for Cape Town, the world's first major city on track to run out of water.
  • Mary Catherine O'Connor writes about river snorkeling and opportunity to "unlock a river's mystery and reveals its energy through glimpses of the life it harbors."
  • Conservationists are racing to save the Cuban coral reefs, "fantastic archives of climate records," from a state of disruption due to climate change.
  • Saba Imtiaz reviews Empire of the Indus, a book that searches to understand the holiness of the Indus River, "as much a lament for history as it is or the decimation of the culture surrounding the mighty river."
  • "Globe-trotting geologists" examine possibilities of finding fresh water deep underground through satellites above the Earth's surface.
  • One story maps out the 150-year history of Flint's dirty water up to the 2016 "revelations about toxic taps."
  • Abrahm Lustgarten breaks down the "use it or lose it" clause, legal water rights that grant farmers, ranchers, and governments and incentive to use more water than they need.
  • Scientists share the journey of Tom and Jerry, two satellites orbiting the Earth and measuring global water loss.