Water is something many people in Scotland take for granted. We use it for drinking and washing, for industry and agriculture and for making almost everything you could think of. Water is vital to the survival of life on our planet, but clean water is becoming an increasingly rare and valuable commodity.
These resources will get you started on the Water topic in your school:
World's Largest Lesson - Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
World’s Largest Lesson introduces the Sustainable Development Goals to children and young people everywhere and unites them in action. Download lesson plans, comics and other resources on food to use in your classroom. Visit site.
All About Water
According to the United Nations, 1.8 billion people use a source of drinking water that is contaminated and 2.4 billion people do not have basic sanitation services, such as toilets or latrines. Water scarcity affects over 40% of our planet's population, affecting food security and health. Climate change will worsen water scarcity, with changing rainfall patterns and increasing temperatures putting pressure on fresh water supplies.
Not having access to running water at home means that people must travel long distances to carry dirty water from wells and streams. Usually, this is the job of women and young girls, who spend many hours a day ensuring their family has enough water. This leaves girls with very little time for other tasks like attending school, doing homework or playing. Similarly, no access to a toilet means people must use fields or woods, risking the spread of disease. Needing to find somewhere to relieve themselves at night puts women and girls at risk of violence.
UNICEF says children's access to safe clean water is a right not a privilege, and one of the targets of goal 6 of the Sustainable Development Goals is by 2030, to achieve universal and equal access to safe and affordable drinking water for all. This is not an easy task, and will involve investment in sanitation and water treatment in developing countries, protecting freshwater habitats, and protecting access to water.
These are tasks for governments rather than any one person, and given Scotland's wet climate, you might not think there is anything we can do in Scotland about water issues. However, the more we waste water unnecessarily, and the more polluted natural supplies get, the more money it costs and the more energy it takes to make sure we continue to have access to clean water.
At home and at school, we can conserve water, and make better use of water. Even simple measures like ensuring taps do not drip can make a difference. Scottish Water says that a dripping tap uses at least 5,500 litres a year - enough to fill a paddling pool every week for the whole summer.
Flushing items down the toilet which should be thrown into a bin, like sanitary products, plasters, razors and cotton buds, clogs filters in water treatment plants which means these items end up on our beaches as Sewage Related Debris, affecting water quality and posing a health hazard.
Similarly, litter dropped on land frequently makes its way onto our waterways and beaches. Cigarette ends are one of the most common types of litter in Scotland and are particularly problematic. Dropped cigarette ends can end up in storm drains and travel from there to our streams and waterways. They're full of plastic, so they don't biodegrade, and remain in the environment for up to 12 years releasing toxins into the water. Disposing of waste properly is another way people in Scotland can protect clean water.