Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Clean Water Act Inspires Water Advocates Worldwide

Iraq Upper Tigris Waterkeeper

By Virginia Tice

When I tell people that I work for an Iraqi environmental non-profit organization, the first question I am invariably asked is, “Doesn’t Iraq have more important things to worry about than environmental protection?” To which I respond, “What could be more important to a country and people than water?” I say this not to minimize the myriad concerns in Iraq but only to put things in perspective: the awful threat of violence is sporadic and localized whereas the threat of cholera or typhoid from a drinking source, drought and saline groundwater are devastatingly widespread. For the average Iraqi, a lack of access to clean water is a much more common problem than unexploded ordinances.

As readers of EcoWatch are no doubt aware, environmental protection safeguards not only the natural world but also human health. Even more than that, in Iraq environmental protection is a pivotal component of peace and stability in the region. In a place where there’s more oil than water, the need for water resource management is important. When that water is shared between countries that have long histories of mistrust and war, the need for water resource management becomes a paramount national interest.

The influence of the U.S. Clean Water Act (CWA) has been significant in this protection process. Like other major American environmental laws, the CWA serves as model legislation for countries looking to regulate the discharge of pollutants into their surface waters. No matter how much further American environmental advocates feel they still need to go in the fight for clean water, clean air, biodiversity and habitat preservation, America nevertheless serves as an inspiring example for countless advocates the world over. The message of “Swimmable, Drinkable, Fishable Water” cuts through the layers of granular policy arguments to reach the heart of the issue for all people: do we want to be able to enjoy our waterways, or not?

Overwhelmingly, the answer to that question in Iraq has been, “yes, we want to protect our water.” The problem for most is that they don’t know how to turn that desire into action. Decades of dictatorship have left a disenfranchised population that is ill equipped to orchestrate meaningful advocacy campaigns. The Iraq Upper Tigris Waterkeeper has worked to change this, helping educate and empower communities to participate in local water resource decision-making. Something as simple as a river cleanup goes a long way in helping a community understand the threats to and solutions for their water.

It feels banal to say water is necessary for life. This simple truism is often lost when you get safe water from a kitchen sink without much thought to the snow-capped mountains and river that brought it there. But there is no such cognitive separation in Iraq. The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers have sustained life here since the beginning of humankind, and will be indispensable to Iraq’s future success. With the continued guidance of the CWA and efforts of the Iraq Waterkeeper, that future success is off to an excellent start.

Visit EcoWatch’s CLEAN WATER ACT page for more related news on this topic.

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Refrigerated trucks function as temporary morgues at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal on May 06, 2020 in New York City. As of July, the states where COVID-19 cases are rising are mostly in the West and South. Justin Heiman / Getty Images

The official number of people in the U.S. who have lost their lives to the new coronavirus has now passed 130,000, according to tallies from The New York Times, Reuters and Johns Hopkins University.

Read More Show Less
A man walks on pink snow at the Presena glacier near Pellizzano, Italy on July 4, 2020. MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP via Getty Images

In a troubling sign for the future of the Italian Alps, the snow and ice in a glacier is turning pink due to the growth of snow-melting algae, according to scientists studying the pink ice phenomenon, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Climate activist Greta Thunberg discusses EU plans to tackle the climate emergency with Parliament's environment committee on March 4, 2020. CC-BY-4.0: © European Union 2020 – Source: EP

By Abdullahi Alim

The 2008 financial crisis spurred a number of youth movements including Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring. A decade later, this anger resurfaced in a new wave of global protests, from Hong Kong to Beirut to London, only this time driven by the children of the 2008 financial crisis.

Read More Show Less
A climate activist holds a victory sign in Washington, DC. after President Obama announced that he would reject the Keystone XL Pipeline proposal on November 6, 2015. Mark Wilson / Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

The Supreme Court late Monday upheld a federal judge's rejection of a crucial permit for Keystone XL and blocked the Trump administration's attempt to greenlight construction of the 1,200-mile crude oil project, the third such blow to the fossil fuel industry in a day—coming just hours after the cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the court-ordered shutdown of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Read More Show Less
A forest fire in Yakutsk in eastern Siberia on June 2, 2020. Yevgeny Sofroneyev / TASS via Getty Images

Once thought too frozen to burn, Siberia is now on fire and spewing carbon after enduring its warmest June ever, according to CNN.

Read More Show Less
The Colima fir tree's distribution has been reduced to the area surrounding the Nevado de Colima volcano. Agustín del Castillo

By Agustín del Castillo

For 20 years, the Colima fir tree (Abies colimensis) has been at the heart of many disputes to conserve the temperate forests of southern Jalisco, a state in central Mexico. Today, the future of this tree rests upon whether the area's avocado crops will advance further and whether neighboring communities will unite to protect it.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Independent environmental certifications offer a better indicator of a product's eco credentials, including labor conditions for workers involved in production. Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Jeanette Cwienk

This summer's high street fashions have more in common than styles and colors. From the pink puff-sleeved dream going for just €19.99 ($22.52) at H&M, to Zara's elegant €12.95 ($14.63) halter-neck dress, clothing stores are alive with cheap organic cotton.

"Sustainable" collections with aspirational own-brand names like C&A's "Wear the change," Zara's "join life" or H&M's "CONSCIOUS" are offering cheap fashion and a clean environmental conscience. Such, at least, is the message. But is it really that simple?

Read More Show Less