Over the past six months, we have had an overabundance of water in the Waccamaw River watershed. The flooding from Hurricane Florence reached historic levels never before seen in our watershed. As the water rose last September, threats to our clean water became more and more apparent. Floods waters could bring pollutants to our clean water sources that we use for drinking, bathing, preparing meals, and maintaining our daily way of life.
Access to clean water is a human right and is the focus of the United Nations’ World Water Day. In 2010, the UN recognized the right to clean water as essential to human life. Water for All, the theme of 2019 World Water Day, recognizes the UN’s goal of providing clean water to all humans by 2030. Though we maintained our access to clean water during the fall’s extreme weather event, many people around the world are not so lucky. Billions of people still do not have access to clean water.
Climate change has an immense impact on clean water access. Extreme weather events caused by climate change – both major flooding and extended drought – impact water quality and quantity. Though it may be hard to remember now, we have had periods of drought previous to the recent flooding. South Carolina follows a regular cycle between drought and flood.
While we may not be lacking in water quantity, extreme water spurred by climate change has the potential to impact our water quality. Increased flooding on the coast could impact our clean water resources. Increased pollution exacerbated by stormwater runoff from extreme rain events will raise water treatment costs which will increase water bills.
Threats to our access to clean water may seem far in the future, but other parts of the world are facing these issues today. Climate change is a global reality that will impact each and every watershed throughout the world. Please visit worldwaterday.org to learn more about World Water Day and read stories from around the world.