Answering the call to end the global water crisis requires action in every area of the sciences and the political and social sectors, but first the call must be heard, and Circle of Blue exists to ensure that the world has access to the most accurate and up-to-date information available.

“Timing is crucial because we still have options that are economical, ecological and equitable, and that can save lives and inform some of the largest investments in the planet’s history,” says Circle of Blue founder J. Carl Ganter.

Objective journalism and scientific analysis define the Circle of Blue mission, and the organization goes to great lengths to preserve its integrity, including strictly reviewing donation sources and stipulating that it will always maintain control over research and will not tolerate pressure to use results to cast donors in a favorable light or obscure salient facts.

Circle of Blue conducts research and generates reports and articles in every area that influences or is influenced by the water crisis, such as health, education, agriculture, climate, pollution and more. Its scope is global and no fact or finding is too small to consider when the group’s team of researchers and reporters collaborate to inform the world.

WaterNews is the organization’s daily publication of global water news and data, and is free to any who care to use it. The news source consists of timely articles as well as Circle of Blue Radio and Video, which offers listeners and viewers a catalog of interviews with activists, policymakers and scientists involved in addressing water issues.

Circle of Blue is unique in that represents an independent, non-partisan source of news and information relating to the global water crisis. Although it is a nonprofit affiliate of the Pacific Institute, it is not beholden to views and agendas espoused by it or any other organization in its reportage.

“Our job is to translate water issues and information into forms that are meaningful — that make the issues personal, data and science that are accessible and visual, and communications design that create interesting and insightful ways to think about water.” Ganter, who is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Water Security, says Circle of Blue relies on contributions from individuals, foundations and responsible companies to advance its strategic reporting. “We all have important roles to play as water, food and energy issues converge and accelerate. Support Circle of Blue makes is possible for us to provide the trusted information we all need to make the most important decisions of our era.”

Those who would like to participate in Circle of Blue are encouraged to make a tax-deductible contribution, consider an internship or simply read and pass along the valuable information freely provided by the organization.

ONE DROP is on a mission to educate communities about the global need for access to clean water, and mobilize people to act by inspiring them with the creative delivery of information about the water crisis as well as ways to combat it.

The nongovernmental organization (NGO) is an initiative of Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Liberte, and was founded in 2007 with the knowledge that people need to be introduced to the struggles of a world without water in ways that move them to action.

To this end, creativity is a working element of the NGO’s mission statement and is manifested in taking on projects that require daring thinking and execution to produce effective long-term results. It also means embracing art and culture as a way to attract support and the ideas of innovative thinkers for implementation in real projects.

ONE DROP is currently engaged in projects in five different countries: India, Honduras, Haiti, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Specific goals vary by project, but the general focus in every area is to develop sustainable sources of clean water and impart the knowledge required to keep the water running as well as income-generating plans to ensure future financing for operation and maintenance.

Much like with other NGOs, these projects are funded through ONE DROP’s strong partnerships, solicitation for donations and fundraising events; however, the organization differs in encouraging these connections through artistic expression that helps educate people on its mission and the importance of water in every human life.

Aqua is one of ONE DROP’s flagship artistic events – a fully immersive sensory experience designed to bring awareness to people about the necessities of water in a theatrical presentation that is presently on tour. Tens of thousands have already taken the creative adventure devised by the minds behind Cirque du Soleil, which is offered as a way to encourage audiences to take action in the fight for “water for all.”

This, however, is only one way to experience ONE DROP and to help improve access to water around the world. The organization invites anyone interested in participating to consider talking about ONE DROP, participating in one of their Solidarity Initiatives, making a donation or simply browsing their available informational materials.

“Water is essential to all life. Together, we have the power and responsibility to support access to water for all, today and tomorrow, in a movement of global solidarity. It starts with just ONE DROP,” said Chantal Marcotte, Communications Manager at ONE DROP.

River systems are a vital natural resource that provides water needed to sustain ecosystems and communities, and American Rivers is a nongovernmental organization (NGO) that works to ensure these life-giving waterways remain clean and healthy now and for future generations.

American Rivers was founded in 1973 and since that time it has made great strides in restoring and protecting the country’s rivers. Some of its most impressive successes include negotiating the world’s largest dam removal on the Klamath River, securing legal protection for more than 1,000 miles of U.S. rivers and spearheading efforts to extend the Clean Water Act’s protections to wetlands and water streams.

It continues its mission in every corner of the country with regional offices, a firm presence in Washington, D.C. and a network of 65,000 volunteers. The organization’s Action Alerts help to focus public awareness in the field while its legal experts engage threats to the nation’s waterways in the halls of justice.

A recent battle pitted American Rivers against policymakers who submitted and supported a Biological Opinion (BO) that would endanger salmon and steelhead runs in the Columbia and Snake Rivers. The organization emerged victorious when a federal judge ruled the BO illegal and ordered it rewritten to comply with the Endangered Species Act.

American Rivers’ legal pursuits and scientific work help to shape policy affecting rivers, and its commitment to networking ensures a solid and growing work and finance support structure, but it is the group’s volunteers that define its formidable national presence.

The organization is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its National River Cleanup program, which has to date resulted in the cleanup of more than 10 million pounds of trash from the nation’s river systems through the hard work and dedication of more than 960,000 volunteers.

American Rivers is calling 2011 “the year of the river” in honor of its historic river restorations, which are marked this year by an organizational milestone of the removal of 1,000 dams known to cause harm to communities and the environment.

5 Interesting Water Infographics

by admin on September 2, 2011

Information graphics or “infographics” are graphic visual representations of information that seek to present complex information quickly and clearly.  As such, infographics are well suited to help the average Joe and Jane understand complex water issues.  Here are 5 of our favorite water infographics, culled from around the web (click on image to view expandable image):

1)    Here is a great one on global access to clean water:



2)    This one covers why fish populations are dwindling:



3)    This useful one speaks to the ways in which we typically waste water at home:



4)    Here is one on the importance of conserving water:



5)    Lastly, this one does a great job showing the global water footprint:



There are many other interesting infographics out there about water topics.  If you know of any good ones, please let us know and perhaps we can do another list: e-mail Charles at

Research and innovation provide the foundation of any worthwhile attempt to meet the challenges water scarcity presents to areas across the globe, and the Columbia Water Center (CWC) brings both to bear in a collaborative multidisciplinary approach to the problem.

The CWC was founded in 2008 with a three-year $6 million grant from the PepsiCo Foundation for the purpose of studying the causes of the global water crisis from every conceivable angle and then developing solutions based on that research. The CWC places a premium on researching water problems associated with agriculture, but does not allow this focus to compromise its broader vision of solving water scarcity in its entirety.

As a part of Columbia University’s esteemed Earth Institute, the CWC expands upon this mission by also creating educational initiatives using the formidable resources provided by university. Courses are available in Hydrology, Environmental Engineering and more, and the Center also organizes workshops and seminars to engage students as well as the general public.

Unlike purely academic pursuits, the knowledge and awareness created through these efforts is then taken into crisis areas through the CWC’s collaborative effort to make real-world differences. The Center’s partnership with the Earth Institute allows it to extend its global reach with more comprehensive expertise through the Institute’s many Centers like the Center for Global Health and Economic Development, and the International Research Institute for Climate & Society, to name two examples.

These resources create a dynamic force when it comes to employing innovative solutions in areas of distress. The CWC is currently engaged in 10 regions around the world facing various stages and types of water crisis including China, India, Brazil, Mali and the United States.

“Water, a fundamental need for life and industry, is becoming increasingly scarce and polluted. Droughts and floods, exacerbate an already tenuous situation. We recognize that solutions to the challenging water problems often require a critical examination of water, energy, food, climate and economic development issues for end users as well as policy makers. We are developing technologies for global flood and drought risk prediction and impact management, and for sustainable water and energy use solutions to address scarcity and pollution,” said Upmanu Lall, Director of the Columbia Water Center.

The CWC’s holistic approach to solving problems in these areas means accepting that every answer is one that involves history, science, law, public policy and a host of other fields of expertise. It is its ability to navigate these various areas as a unified body that makes it a unique weapon in the fight against water scarcity.

AWRA logoThe American Water Resources Association (AWRA) was founded in 1964 at a time in US history when water rights, management and a need for increased resources was literally changing the landscape of the country.

AWRA has stayed true to its multidisciplinary roots since its inception and continues to honor its motto of “Community, Conversation, Connections,” as the inspiration of its mission: to create a welcoming forum where people can come together and share ideas and concerns about water resource management.

“The study of water cuts across many disciplines. AWRA attracts individuals who wish to transcend the limits of their own disciplines by exploring water from other perspectives and interacting with others who desire to do the same,” stated Michael E. Campana, AWRA President.

The nongovernmental organization (NGO) pursues this mission in several ways, although perhaps most successfully through its dynamic Conference Series that attracts state, federal and foreign government representatives, specialists in a wide array of scientific and other disciplines and even laypeople with an interest in learning more about water resource management. Conferences are also often held at the state level by its 32 state sections or student chapters, which increases more immediate opportunities to personally engage in the management of local water resources.

AWRA’s commitment to partnerships has allowed it to expand well beyond the US and it frequently contributes to the improvement of water resources in areas suffering serious water crises. As AWRA approaches its 50th anniversary, it has established a presence in more than 50 foreign nations that helps members around the world network to share ideas and technological advancements across borders. Its recent agreement with the Korea Water Resources Association is a testament to the organization’s forward-looking, multidisciplinary approach to water resource management.

Researchers, scientists and specialists of all kinds also take advantage of the NGO’s two publications, the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) and IMPACT. Both are peer-reviewed and available to members. The former presents scholarly, applied articles on a broad spectrum of water resource issues, whereas the latter offers short, topical articles organized around a central theme.

For the public, AWRA offers to keep anyone who is interested up to date on the latest organization and water resource management news through its blog, as well as supporting and announcing public speaking engagements, training courses, award opportunities and other ways for individuals to get engaged and play an active role in protecting their most vital natural resource.

Coalition Protects California Water Resources

by admin on August 16, 2011

The California Farm Water Coalition (CFWC) is engaged in a mission to serve the state’s agricultural community by supporting responsible irrigated water use in an area of the country with a well-documented history of water resource challenges.

California also has a history of devising innovative solutions to those challenges and the CFWC has played a pivotal role in encouraging the stewardship of the state’s water since its inception in 1989. Its members include most water districts and agencies in the state as well as agricultural organizations, farmers, private citizens and others who are interested in irrigated agriculture.

Agriculture is an essential element of California’s economy and impacts the livelihoods of millions of people. Research conducted by the Department of Water Resources indicates farmers use 41% of the state’s available water (whether originating from inside or outside the borders) on more than 250 different crop types and irrigates 9.6 million acres of land using 34 million acre-feet of water in an average year. This is an exceptional amount of water and exacting methods of efficiency are required to maintain this supply year after year. This is most commonly and effectively accomplished through irrigated agriculture.

The CFWC emphasizes the importance of improving these methods, advocating their use and informing the public about its impact on water availability through its Farm Water Works! public outreach initiative. It provides a way for large-scale water users and water resource administrators to communicate, share ideas and work together to increase efficiency in water use.

Irrigated agriculture use and technology must evolve as the California population and agricultural industry grows, and the CFWC has taken on the task of advocating this advancement. Organization members understand that the future of the state’s water resources depends upon its responsible and efficient use now and will continue to work to safeguard its supply.

Ensuring that people around the globe have regular access to clean water is the end goal of dozens of non-profit organizations (NGOs), and getting there takes a deeper understanding of the world and even water itself.

The Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS) contributes to this effort through its mission of advocating the conservation of soil, water and other natural resources on that land that is used to grow or produce the things needed for human survival and comfort, like food and fiber.

Technological advancements in nearly every professional sector are having the aggregate effect of increasing the global population, and it is imperative that studies in natural resource conservation keep pace with this growth. Shortages of both food and water are indicative of a longstanding problem and illustrate the critical need in this field of research.

The SWCS has been bringing scientists, researchers, educators and policymakers together since 1943 in an effort to combat the broad threat of natural resource shortages, and now has more than 5,000 members organized in 75 chapters across the United States and Canada.

Advocacy also involves reviewing the practices some of the country’s largest agricultural firms, and encouraging them to partner with environmental organizations that can further ensure their stewardship of natural resources. Agricultural giant Cargill was awarded the SWCS 2011 Merit Award for its partnership with Living Lands & Waters to reforest a portion of one of Cargill’s plant properties.

The organization provides access to research materials and publications to those who are interested in learning more about conservationism, and members have access to the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, a bimonthly multidisciplinary publication that features peer-reviewed research and articles regarding all facets of conservation.

Those who are looking for more hands-on local participation can contact their local SWCS chapter to engage in grassroots activities to share information in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of water and soil stewardship so that it may be continued to be used for generations to come.

US Think Tank AWWA Focuses on Water

by admin on July 21, 2011

Very few non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have a richness of history and wealth of experience comparable to that of the American Water Works Association (AWWA).

AWWA was founded in 1881 by leaders in the growing industry of public waterworks in the US. The country was surging through an Industrial Revolution, the population was soaring and the complex issues surrounding the supply of clean, sustainable water demanded the focus of the nation’s best engineers and scientists.

The mission of AWWA then was to create a network of professionals in the areas of hydrology, geology, city planning and other fields, as well as financiers, community leaders and politicians with the goal of delivering clean water to America.

AWWA continues to pursue this mission with 57,000 members organized in 43 different sections, among them those who are responsible for delivering 85% of Americans with clean water. The NGO also partners with organizations in 100 other countries through its International Council to share its knowledge so that it may contribute to the fight against the global water crisis.

While AWWA places its emphasis on research, education and providing information on how to develop and sustain clean water resources, it also has a powerful political voice and frequently advocates for legislation that will better preserve America’s clean water resources and ensure its accessibility.

AWWA recognizes the importance of this national resource and promotes proper stewardship at the local and state level as much as it does in the halls of Congress. The Section Services department of the organization is organized by section across North America, and members and volunteers can participate in the larger mission of AWWA by contacting their regional representatives.

People with an interest in their local, regional or national clean water resources are encouraged to participate in the AWWA mission by becoming a member, volunteering on a water council or panel, contributing to a discussion or simply using AWWA’s Water Library to gather more information for sharing with others.

Many nonprofit organizations (NGOs) advocate educating local communities about sustainable water and how to manage a system once it is in place, but few organizations put that education in the hands of the children.

Water School was founded in 2007 with the idea of providing sustainable clean water solutions to those who need it. Its operations are driven by the motivation of numbers: the 2.6 billion people without basic sanitation, the 1.3 billion people who lack regular access to clean water and the 2 million children who die every year as a result of these deficiencies.

The NGO focuses on introducing the SODIS method of water treatment to rural African communities through school systems. SODIS, or “solar disinfection,” is the practice of disinfecting water by placing it in plastic bottles and then leaving it in the sun for six hours. This simple method allows UV rays to kill bacteria that can otherwise cause diarrhea, a common killer in the developing world.

Children learn the method as well lessons on basic sanitation and hygiene at school and are then encouraged to take the information home with them. This method of teaching has helped introduce SODIS to some 400,000 people in Kenya, Sudan and Haiti.

Water School’s method seems simple compared to other NGOs involved in providing answers to the global water crisis, and SODIS seems like an even easier solution, especially for small-scale water needs. That, however, is the beauty of the program and how it has garnered such widespread support. It is easy to understand and therefore easy to advocate.

Even so, as Water School’s mission expands so does its need for increased involvement. Those interested in the project can participate in many ways to help bring SODIS and a better understanding of the importance of sanitation and hygiene to those who need it.