World Water Day

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World Water Day (English)
Día Mundial del Agua (Español)


March 22nd is World Water Day. Founded in 1993 by the United Nations, this global observance highlights the need for the care and management of the world’s water resources. This year’s theme, “Urban Water Usage” highlights the ongoing challenges we face as urban populations continue to grow.

With an estimated one out of two people on the planet now living in cities, the pressure to meet our freshwater needs is at a breaking point. From supply, to sanitation, to usage, our infrastructure and resource management practices have pushed many areas past peak water capability. Not only does this affect public health and welfare, the effects from urban runoff, sewage spills and ocean intakes cause significant damage to our marine environments.


  • Every eight months, 10.9 million gallons of oil runs off streets and driveways and into our nations waters – equivalent to the amount lost in the Exxon Valdez spill.
  • Each year in the United States, there are approximately 20,000 beach closing and advisory days due to bacterial contamination and/or sewage spills.
  • Every day, 43 wastewater treatment facilities in California discharge about 1.35 billion gallons of treated effluent into the Pacific Ocean.
  • The good news is that each and every one of us can reduce our water footprint by making small changes in our day-to-day routines. These actions will not only help keep our oceans, waves and beaches clean, they could potentially help you save hundreds of dollars each year!

Learn more at Surfrider Foundation's World Water Day website.

World Water Day History

An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day.

Each year, World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater.

Themes from past years

Year Theme
1994 Caring for Our Water Resources is Everyone's Business
1995 Women and Water
1996 Water for Thirsty Cities
1997 The Worlds Water - Is there Enough
1998 Groundwater - The Invisible Resource
1999 Everyone Lives Downstream
2000 Water for the 21st Century
2001 Water for Health - Taking Charge
2002 Water for Development
2003 Water for the Future
2004 Water and Disasters
2005 Water for Life 2005 - 2015
2006 Water and Culture
2007 Water Scarcity
2008 International Year of Sanitation
2009 Shared Water - Shared Opportunities
2010 Water Quality
2011 Water for cities: responding to the urban challenge
2012 Water and Food Security
2013 International Year of Water Cooperation