By Megan Demit, US Water Alliance

September 15, 2017

Imagine a Day Without Water is all about building awareness and appreciation for water, making us pause to think about how much we would be impacted if we didn’t have safe and reliable water and wastewater services. But Imagine a Day Without Water isn’t just a day about water infrastructure and water services—it’s bigger than that. This is an opportunity to break down traditional silos and collaborate beyond the water sector, by partnering with schools, city agencies, environmental groups, local businesses, zoos, aquariums, car washes and others to spread the message that all water has value.

After all, the future of our water is all of our responsibilities and we should all have a stake in protecting it.

In past years, many cities and water utilities have used Imagine a Day Without Water to strengthen community partnerships and more effectively spread the message about the value of water. Check out some of these great examples, which we hope will be inspiration to forge new partnerships this year.

  • Tucson, AZ: Tucson Water partnered with local schools to incorporate water into the curriculum. Through the nonprofit Environmental Education Exchange, a wide variety of conservation and environmental education programs and materials have been developed, tailored to different ages and grade levels. Arizona Project WET (Water Education for Teachers) offers free, instructor-tested, water-related curriculum to teachers through hands-on workshops. The utility even has a mascot, Pete the Beak, who helps raise awareness about water efficiency for both children and adults alike.
  • Atlanta, GA: City of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Department of Watershed Management Commissioner Kishia Powell, and Grammy-winning hip hop artist Killer Mike hosted a press conference and ceremony to officially announce the name of the city’s new boring tunnel machine. The name “Driller Mike” was submitted by a resident and chosen for the machine, which will dig a five-mile tunnel to fill the Bellwood Quarry with 30 days-worth of drinking water. This partnership was a great example of how water and culture can come together during Imagine a Day Without Water.
  • Los Angeles, CA: Through the Young Citizen Artists Project, elementary and middle school students in Los Angeles presented their ideas for how households and cities can conserve water. Students proposed ideas including reusing shower water and recycling water to be used to water plants to a panel of city planners from Mayor Garcetti’s Office, the LA Department of Water and Power, and LA Sanitation.
  • Philadelphia, PA: To celebrate 25 years of green infrastructure investments through the Green City, Clean Waters Initiative and Imagine a Day Without Water, the Philadelphia Water Department hosted a week of pop-up gardens with local businesses around the city. The events in the gardens are loosely themed around water issues, like “Brewsday Tuesday”: a celebration of drinking water quality and beer. Participants could also sign up to receive a free rain barrel.
  • Madison, WI: Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District partnered with a number of municipal agencies, community leaders, and advocacy organizations to engage the community in Imagine a Day Without Water.
  • Syracuse, NY: Mayor Stephanie Miner and owner of local coffeeshop Café Kabul discussed the importance of water infrastructure to jobs, businesses, public health, and day-to-day life, highlighting the all-too-critical reality of “No Water, No Coffee.”

It’s important to talk about water beyond traditional utility, engineering, and environmental spheres. Once we do, we are all better able to understand broader benefits that these systems provide to things we take for granted every day.