Water Walk raises awareness of importance of clean water

Mikaela Cannizzo

A small group of UT students took a break from their normal routines of receiving clean water from accessible faucets and fountains Thursday evening to participate in a water walk hosted by Students for Clean Water.

During a “water walk,” students walked from the tower to Town Lake to fill empty water jugs and carried posters promoting clean water. Students for Clean Water, a campus organization that raises funds to build wells and contribute to water sanitation projects in Burundi, hosted the event to raise awareness of the lack of water resources in many third-world countries.

Emma Heitmann, hydrogeology senior and co-president of Students for Clean Water, said the goal of the walk is for students to put themselves in the positions of people who dedicate time and effort into walking miles each day to collect water, most of which is usually unclean. 

“We should be aware that not everyone has access to clean water resources; not everyone has a tap in their house that they can just turn on and have safe drinking water come out of,” Heitmann said.

According to Heitmann, one out of 11 people in the world lack access to clean water. Heitmann said she believes the scarcity of clean water affects women and children in third-world countries because they must walk to provide water rather than attend school or work.

Lauren Truong, chemical engineering sophomore and water walk participant, said she has been a member of the organization for two semesters and participated in the event to highlight a method of obtaining water unfamiliar to many.

“I don’t think a lot of people really think about [clean water] so if they see people actually walking through the streets with jugs, it might raise awareness of the fact that this issue actually exists,” Truong said.

The task of purifying water collected in countries with poor water infrastructures can also be challenging, Heitmann said. A lack of sanitation methods results in waterborne illnesses and public health issues, according to Heitmann.

Health promotion junior Claire Goertz participated in the water walk to engage with the community and experience something not culturally familiar to her.

“Our luxurious lifestyle is nothing like what they have to do,” Goertz said. “They walk miles to go get water and it’s not even healthy for them to drink, but it’s what they have so that’s what they have to deal with.”