International World Water Day

Happy World Water Day Maria Family! Today, March 22 is international World Water Day as observed by the United Nations. As many of you know, Care of the Earth is one of the Sisters of Mercy’s Critical Concerns, so it only seems fit we celebrate!

I figured we could celebrate by learning a few facts about Earth’s Water as we celebrate her today.

  • Earth does not gain or lose water.  It simply gets converted between forms and levels of access. (USGS, 2018).
  • Ninety six and a half percent (96.5%) of water on Earth is in the ocean, and not drinkable of course. This leaves only a small fraction of fresh water (3.5%) that we can consume or use (NASA, 2010).
  • One and a quarter (1.25%) of the Earth’s water is stores in polar ice caps, glaciers, and permanent snow.
  • One percent (1%) is vapor in the atmosphere (NASA, 2010).
  • The remaining 1.25% is stored deep beneath the ground, in lakes, rivers, streams, and soil This is the only water available for drinking and consumption for all Earth’s creatures, us included! (NASA, 2010).

Maybe you know all that about water on Earth though, so here is something I bet you do not yet know! A few years ago, a buzz word came out around the environmental movement “carbon footprint”. A carbon footprint is the total use of all carbon emissions from all activities of humans. 

Did you know you have a water footprint too? Your water footprint is the total amount of water consumed by every activity you do, and object you touch. 

Here are some facts about water footprints:

  • When we use or consume water Public Health Practitioners and Scientists have assigned different categories to fresh water.   Here are the definitions of each: 
    1. Green water comes from rain, ice and snow precipitation.
    2. Blue water is what comes from the ground, rivers, lakes, streams, and aquifers.
    3. Gray water is what comes from activities such as cooking, cleaning, dish washing, showering and other daily activities.
    4. Black water comes from flushing your toilet, and of course has to go though the most rigorous treatment to be used again.
  • Some common items and their water footprint are a:
    1. Car- 13,000-26,000 gallons
    2. Cellphone- 3,190 gallons
    3. Pair of jeans- 2,108 gallons
    4. Cotton t-shirt- 659 gallons
    5. Steak (beef)- 674 gallons
    6. One chicken egg- 52 gallons

So on International Water Day, please take a second and calculate your water footprint. I bet the results will shock you! Being mindful of our consumption is the first step in caring for Earth. Once we know our habits and where we can improve, then we can work together to justly care for our collective home.

Jillian Mertzlufft M.P.H.
Assistant Director of Student Services and Mission
Assistant to Healthcare Management Program Director
Mercy and Justice Committee Chair


  • Comment:

    Thank you, Jillian! Wonderful article from which I learned a lot! I thought of book Just Water and of a talk Sister Aine O’Connor gave at the UN. Will try to find the link. I hope you can meet her! ??

    Submitted by Gail Waring RSM on

Leave a Comment