Monday, April 11, 2011

Precious Water

Letter to the Editor of the Tulsa World:

By David Sabatini, Norman
Published: 4/10/2011 4:41 AM
Last Modified: 4/10/2011 4:41 AM

Natural disasters usually spark a rush of response. Hearing stories of a friend's daughter, who was in Japan when the tragedy struck and has since had trouble finding clean water, or from friends in New Zealand who had to dig a hole in their backyard for human waste because the sewage system was inoperable, makes us want to help.

However, we sometimes forget there are from 1 billion to 2 billion people who don't have access to safe drinking water - every day, not because of a natural disaster. World Water Day was March 22 and it raised awareness of these issues.

More than 2 million deaths a year occur in developing countries for those who never have access to safe drinking water - that translates to a child dying every 15 seconds due to lack of something we take for granted. In these countries, it's hard to develop as a nation when the majority of time is spent just trying to collect clean water to stay alive.

At the Water Center at the University of Oklahoma, we focus on long-term solutions to drinking water and sanitation challenges in developing countries. We raise awareness and research solutions to these issues. During spring break, OU engineering students traveled to Africa to help bring life-sustaining water to those in dire need. I'm encouraged by their motivation to make the world a better place by using engineering principles, creative solutions and their generosity to help others.

Editor's note: Sabatini is a University of Oklahoma College of Engineering professor.

Read more from this Tulsa World article at

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