Cleaning up the rivers of the world

By the Water & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group (WASRAG) 

Today, 1.8 billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated with feces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly officially designated 22 March as World Water Day. This annual day is coordinated by UN-Water in collaboration with governments and partners to tackle the water crisis.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, launched in 2015, include a target to ensure everyone has access to safe water by 2030, making water a key issue in the fight to eradicate extreme poverty.

In celebration of World Water Day 2018, the Water & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group (WASRAG) is encouraging Rotary clubs throughout the world to consider adopting a river clean-up or similar project in or near their community. Since the time of year to best implement these types of projects varies from region to region, your project can take place at any time leading up to World Water Day, but we will celebrate and promote your projects as part of World Water Day activities.

Don’t know where to start? Contact your local conservation authority (if there is one) and they can point you to areas in your community where the need is most critical and alert you to environmentally sensitive issues. Here are a few types of hands on projects your club can take on:

  • Cleaning up debris along a river or stream, and recycling qualified items
  • Planting trees and native plants along the water
  • Promoting safe and organic alternatives for lawn and garden fertilizers
  • Creating awareness about invasive water species
  • Partnering with local conservation and water protection NGOs on projects
  • Encouraging slow speeds of boats and other water toys
  • Planting a rain garden
  • Creating awareness about not dumping into storm drains
  • Promoting use of non-toxic tackle for fishing

We also encourage you to educate your community on river clean-up projects and promote the benefits through programs such as:

  • Hosting an essay contests on why rivers need to be kept clean
  • Educating others on social and digital media
  • Organizing club programs about the benefits of clean water
  • Hosting friendly club project competitions
  • Participating in community events to promote Rotary’s involvement in World Water Day: Chamber of Commerce activities, local conservation events, etc.

Enter in our competition for a chance to win!

Submit a brief description of your project, including what you’ve done, the target audience and the expected impact.  Remember to tell us your district number and club name as well as your name, email address and phone number. Please send all entries to

  • DEADLINE: May 1st, 2018
  • AWARDS: Two outstanding projects (the most impactful and the most innovative) will be selected for a USD $500 award. Winners will be notified by May 31st, 2018.  The awards will be presented at WASRAG’s Annual General Meeting on Saturday June 23rd, 2018 in Toronto, Canada.

We encourage you to promote your project during club meetings leading up to World Water Day and be sure to add them to Rotary Showcase. WASRAG will also promote select projects in our newsletter, website, and on social media. Take action and join our World Water Day Challenge!

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