“Whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”
To give drink to the thirsty is one of the corporal works of mercy. If you are wondering what you, your family and community can do to protect our freshwater supplies and support access to safe and clean drinking water, then here are some practical, economic, and easy to implement solutions:
Measure your water footprint, conserve water if necessary, and reduce the waste you tip down your drain.
- You can use the personal water footprint calculator from the Water Footprint Network.
- Decide if you use too much water and what you can do to reduce your overall consumption. Follow the tips on saving water from Sydney Water. For example, you might consider returning to fasting on Fridays, perhaps by giving up meat.
- Reduce your use of plastics, use a refillable water bottle and coffee cup and keep wet wipes out of the sewerage system.
Explore opportunities for learning, reflection and prayer about the issues that are important.
- Keep informed and learn more about the social teaching of the Church and how the provision of safe, accessible and affordable water and sanitation relates to many justice issues (for example, by visiting the webpages listed in the Resources section )
- Learn more about the role of water in our communities, particularly in our indigenous communities. We have so much to learn from their long and deep association with the land. Listen to Jacqui Remond and Megan Seneque talk on their views about water.
- Speak to your local parish priest, pastoral coordinator, youth minister or family educator, along with fellow parishioners about opportunities for prayer and reflection. You can find contact details for your local parish here.
Raise awareness about issues relating to access to clean water and sanitation.
- Start a discussion. Raise issues of concern with your friends, family and colleagues;
- Search out your local parish and community groups and ask them how they are working on issues that are important to you.
- Share articles with your online communities by posting, retweeting and liking articles about water conservation, reducing pollution and providing access to water;
- Express your views by writing a letter to your local Councillor or Member of Parliament. You can find contact details for your local politicians by visiting https://www.olg.nsw.gov.au/local-government-directory (for local government), https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/members/Pages/all-members.aspx (NSW MPs) and http://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Members (Federal MPs).
- Participate in online discussions, comment on Face Book posts that are relevant, encourage people or organisations where they are doing good work
- Engage your local council about issues of concern. What steps is your local council taking to reduce the impact of nuisance flooding, for instance? For example, the City of Sydney has a plan to reduce the impact of nuisance flooding through stormwater harvesting and water sensitive urban design: http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/151206/WSUD-and-Stormwater-Report.pdf. You can contact your local council to learn about the steps being taken in your community to prevent nuisance flooding. You could also ask your local councillors to visit your parish or school to talk to you about their efforts. Finally, you can write to them, explaining why the prevention of nuisance flooding is important to your community. You can find the contact details of your local council by using the Find My Council page on the NSW Government Department of Local Government website.
- Contribute to local efforts to build resiliency and prepare for storms and floods. This could be as simple as taking steps around your home prior to prepare for a storm. Consider the SES StormSafe App – is it something that might be useful to you? Perhaps you might also like to investigate how your parish or social justice group could play a role in your local community’s preparedness. Visit the NSW SES Storm Preparation page to find out more about their role in your community. The NSW SES also has a dedicated website to prepare and stay safe during floods called Foodsafe: http://www.ses.nsw.gov.au/communitysafety/floodsafe/ Here you can find resources for local councils, businesses and schools.
Support Catholic organisations working to improve water quality and sanitation.
Visit the Resources page for links to organisations you might be interested in supporting. Get in touch with organisations you are interested and ask the organisations how best you might be of assistance. Some organisations of interest may be:
- MSC Mission;
- Mercy Works;
- Good Shepherd Australia NZ;
- Columban Mission Society;
- Lassallian Foundation;
- Australian Marist Solidarity;
- Caritas New Zealand Gift, Water for Life; and
- Catholic Earthcare Australia.
Support the Catholic organisations working in this area. In particular, keep an eye out for programs that are identifying areas where the water supply is under the most threat from climate change or commercial exploitation. Look for areas where there needs to be:
- a continuous and sufficient supply of water and sanitation for personal and domestic use;
- safe and secure supply of water and sanitation – free from pollution; harmful bacteria, or the threat of potential violence;
- an acceptable supply of water and sanitation, both in relation to the quality of the water & the appropriateness of facilities provided (e.g., appropriate to relation to age, gender, culture, or ability);
- physically accessible and affordable water and sanitation.
Decide upon the best ways that you or your family, school or parish group could promote & support the work of Catholic organisations in this area include:
- Offering to volunteer in the organisations, either individually as a parish team;
- Fundraising for Catholic organisations bringing clean water to remote and disadvantaged communities
- Raising awareness within your parish and local community about the good work these organisations are doing.
- Joining an advocacy and action group in your parish or local area or establish partnerships between local community groups. For example, consider joining a social justice or ecology group in your parish. If there is none, consider setting one up. For advice on setting up a social justice group, check out the Justice and Peace Office resource ‘Toward a Social Justice Group’ . As an alternative, consider participating in a program, such as Streamwatch, a volunteer water monitoring program run by the Australian Museum.
- Take advantage of key dates. In 2017, Lent falls between 1 March and the 13 April. Organise an event for UN World Water Day, on 22 March or ;Organise a parish group to participate in Clean-up Australia Day. In 2017, the day is held on Sunday, 5 March, which also falls during Lent (although for schools it is held on 3 March and for businesses 28 February). For more information visit http://www.cleanupaustraliaday.org.au/get-involved/.