There’s Trouble in the Tub: My #waterstory for World Water Day

World Water Day

World Water Day“Oh no, not again!” I moaned as my 18-month-old started grimacing and turning red.

I thought about whisking him out of the bathtub and plopping him on the toilet—all soapy and sopping wet—but obviously it was too late. He strained for just a moment before I saw some floaters emerge amidst the bubbles.

At the risk of spoiling your lunch, I’ll tell you that my toddler is going through a poop-in-the-tub phase.

This particular time it happened before I was able to wash him, so with a frustrated sigh I pulled him out of the tub, drained all that now-stinky water, cleaned up the area, refilled the tub again, and plunked my boy back in for what I prayed was a proper bath—sans number two.

In that moment, I wasn’t thinking about the water; I was focused on the need to clean the dirt behind my son’s ears and to wash the yogurt out of his fine blonde hair.

Only now does it occur to me that in the sole act of refilling that bathtub I used ten times more water than the average African family uses in an entire day

The Truth About Water

According to the nonprofit WaterAid, 768 million people around the world live without safe water to drink.

That’s a big number. So big, in fact, that our eyes just might glaze over it. So let me put it another way: Roughly 1 in 10 people in the world are without safe water.

What’s more, even those who can access water often have to work for it. People in developing countries walk on average 4 miles per day for water, carrying it back at a weight of about 40 pounds.

The people doing all this water-hauling? Usually women and girls. One U.N. report estimated that, put together, women in sub-Saharan Africa spend 200 million hours per day collecting water, or 40 billion hours per year.

Put It In Perspective

As gross as it is, it’s also kind of funny that my son keeps pooping in the tub. With a laugh I’ll call down to my husband to come quick because we’ve had another bathtub blowout, or he’ll lightheartedly text me to say that our son’s bowels are again at the mercy of the warm water.

But I share these chuckles with you to make this important point: The fact that I can drain our tub and refill it again without batting an eye is a privilege.

I didn’t hesitate to do it. I didn’t think about the 2,000 children who die each day from unsafe water and poor sanitation. I didn’t walk miles and miles for that precious H2O.

All I did was turn on the faucet and wait for gallons upon clean gallons to come pouring out.

If only it were that easy for everyone.

Do Something

Maybe you’re reading this post while sipping on a bottle of clean, pure water.

Maybe you’re thinking about the times you’ve drained and refilled your own tub after a toddler mishap like mine.

Or maybe you’re contemplating your own #waterstory—a time when you realized the importance of clean water in your life or the lives of others.

World Water Day is March 22. Will you be moved to do something?

Share your story.

It’s not too late to blog, Tweet, or Facebook post about your #waterstory, in the name of raising awareness about the importance of clean water for everyone.

WaterAodNicaSGMchatsmJoin the conversation.

I learned about WaterAid’s work through fellow blogger Jennifer Barbour, who is currently in Nicaragua representing Mom Bloggers for Social Good and the Global Team of 200.

You can follow Jennifer’s journey through her blog and a special World Water Day Twitter chat tomorrow (Friday, March 21st) at 1pm ET.

Take even more action.

We can’t claim ignorance any more.

As WaterAid Media & Communications Officer Alanna Imbach so eloquently said:

“When it comes to breaking the cycle of poverty, we’ve all got a role to play, and if there’s one thing we know, it’s that it all starts with water.”

So what more can you do?

  • Tell all your friends and family about the importance of clean water for everyone across the globe, perhaps by connecting them with WaterAid via Facebook or Twitter.
  • Tell Congress to support the Paul Simon Water for the World Act.
  • Birthday coming up? Instead of a new top or gift certificate for a manicure, ask for the gift of clean water and sanitation for families in developing countries.
  • Donate some of your own time or financial resources to those nonprofits working tirelessly to end the water crisis.

When’s the last time you really thought about your own water consumption? Do you take clean water for granted, like I do?

Do you have a #waterstory to share? 


20 responses to “There’s Trouble in the Tub: My #waterstory for World Water Day”

  1. Great reminder… I am constantly wasting water, especially with a little one around that’s obsessed with splashing in running water! I will remember this when she wants to do that from now on!

  2. As I head to the pool this morning to swim laps, this story will be on my mind. It’s an incredible privilege to have the means to enjoy water for exercise and leisure when so many go without. Thanks for the great reminder!

  3. Great job putting this into perspective, really.
    I swear I have ruined my son for potty training because I usually DO get him on the toilet on time but the fast action of it, plus him being cold and wet, makes him sob.

  4. When we lived in Mississippi, we weren’t allowed (by our parents) to swim in the Gulf of Mexico, as raw sewage was dumped into it.

    That’s a lot different than now where I have 3 full rain barrels for watering plants and we hang out at the Pacific Ocean daily. Susanna splashes while Scott and I encourage her.

    Oh, how times and water have changed…

  5. I absolutely take clean water for granted. I’m surrounded by clean water – at work, at home, in the car. When I was in school for environmental science a teacher of mine said that the wars of the future are going to be fought for water.

  6. It’s amazing what we take for granted, especially clean water, which has historically always been a precious commodity. I try to save water as much as I can by keeping rain barrels around my house and using them to water my garden and plants in the summer. But, there’s so much more I could do, especially with all the “gray water” produced from my laundry, showering, etc. Thanks!

  7. Yep, workingonworkingmom’s teacher wasn’t just smart, but far-sighted. We’re already seeing these burgeoning water wars. I’m in CA where lack of winter rains will cause an extra-long (hopefully not extra-strong) summer wildfire season and is already pushing up the price of almonds as almond farmers decide which section of their orchards to not water.

  8. Katie, what a great post (oh, and my toddler is also a tub pooper). I grew up very water conscientious, as a 1st generation child of parents who immigrated here from the Philippines where the water that came out of the tap was not suitable for drinking (at least not in the 70s when I visited a few summers as a child). My parents were always reminding my siblings and I to not let the faucet run any longer than needed and to not take overly long showers. I wonder if I can raise my son with the same level of conscientiousness.

  9. While here in Nicaragua, I met a girl who used to walk a mile to fill a bucket of water for her family. She’d make the trip before and after school. She was 10 and the bucket weighed about 40 pounds. Now, with the help of WaterAid, she has a well in her community that is just a short stroll from her house. A 14-year old boy was trained to maintain it. Thank you for sharing your perspective, Kate. I know I certainly have gained a better appreciation for water!

  10. I love that you are promoting awareness on this issue, Katie. You are right. It is time for us to start doing something about it instead of waiting for someone else to do something. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Jennifer’s trip has definitely been eye opening…it’s one thing to hear about it, and another to see it firsthand (or in our case see the pictures and read Jennifer’s words). It definitely has made me think about how much my family takes for granted.

  12. I love that quote from Alanna! I have been feeling quite guilty the last few days since all of the water conversations about how much we use each day for all five of us to bathe. I do take quick showers, but my girls love to fill up that bath tub. Gotta stop that.

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