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Milwaukee Water Council, UWM celebrate UN World Water Day

March 27th, 2012 | By Holly Nearman

Greg Stromberg, CEO and president of CannedWater4Kids, second-guessed his public pledge to carry 40 pounds of water on his head for the entire walk, while acknowledging the fact that young women and children in many countries often carry more water over longer distances multiple times a day.

“In Wisconsin, all we do here is turn on a faucet and we have clean drinking water,” says Stromberg, whose non-profit organization works to provide clean drinking water for kids in developing countries. “We are so spoiled and have so much abundance.”

Greg Stromberg, CEO and president of CannedWater4Kids, managed to carry two cases of water for half of the three-mile trek. (Photos: Holly Nearman)

Nearly one billion people around the world do not have access to safe water. Each year, 3.5 million people die due to complications from drinking contaminated water. While the average American family uses 700 gallons of water each day, the average family in Africa gets by on five gallons, according to The Balanced Equation, a documentary produced by three high school students from Racine about the world water crisis.

Milwaukee’s inaugural celebration of United Nations World Water Day on Saturday brought these issues to light with a screening of The Balanced Equation, presented by the Milwaukee Water Council and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee at the UWM Union. The day culminated with The Wisconsin Walk for Water, a three-mile walk beginning at the Linwood Water Treatment Plant on Lincoln Memorial Drive and ending at Lakeshore State Park.

“The main goal of the event was to create awareness within the community about the importance of water,” says Dr. Murali Vedula, Engineering Program Director at UWM School of Continuing Education and host of World Water Day at UWM. “Milwaukee is working to become the world water hub so we have a reputation to live up to.”

Milwaukee, one of 13 worldwide cities in the UN Global Compact Cities Programme, is making great strides to position itself in the global picture not only from a standpoint of industry, but also through policies and community involvement to address the world’s water problems, says Vedula.

“It’s going to be young people who are inheriting the messes that we leave and who are going to have to fix all of this,” says Dr. David Garman, dean of the UWM School of Freshwater Sciences.
The youth are already stepping up to address solutions. Samantha Noll, Madison Richards, and Sinclair Richards were hand-selected by The Dow Chemical Company and the Keystone Center for Education to create a documentary about the world water crisis in developing countries including Kenya and the Dominican Republic. The award-winning filmmakers, who had started making documentaries in middle school and have launched their own production company, were an obvious choice for the project, which is now used to introduce related high school curriculum.
“I wish everyone could travel to these villages and experience everything we did,” says Sinclair Richards. “It was such an eye-opening experience.”