Every 20 Seconds: The Importance of World Water Day

You and I, and those living in most developed nations, never have to walk far or work hard to find drinking water. We never have to choose between clean drinking water and dirty water -- or between dirty water that may make us sick, and no water at all. For many of us, freshwater is so abundant it's hard to even imagine what life would be like without it.

However, not everyone in the world is as privileged as you and I. Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease. Every single day, women spend 200 million hours collecting water. Every week, 3 million students miss school because they lack access to clean water or sanitation, and every year, inadequate sanitation costs India $53.8 billion, or 6.4 percent of its GDP.

Today, on World Water Day, I'm asking you to join me in raising awareness and help to break the poverty cycle for women and children whose days are otherwise filled by collecting dirty water, not going to school or successfully earning an income.

We know how to solve these problems. We simply need to make it a greater priority. That's why I have introduced H.R. 3658, the Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2012. It comes with zero increase in federal spending, but enormous positive impacts on health, school attendance, food security and nutrition, environmental quality, empowering women, and economic development across the globe. All of which keeps us safer here at home, too.