Special Water Places

Happy belated Earth Day to all! The Blue Roots Project team is still sore from digging holes and planting trees on a property less than 30 minutes from where we all live in Muncie, Ind. We asked, and you all delivered. From April 17 through April 21, for every water story submission we received, we agreed to plant one tree on Earth Day, April 22. Well, thanks to our contributors, we collected about 20 submissions. And since we had a good-sized team, we ended up planting TWO trees per water story (and then some!).

We hope you marked Earth Day doing something special, whether it was conserving a little extra water, picking up a piece of trash, taking part in nationwide protests or even just visiting a special place and taking some time to reflect. Water is such a crucial part of our planet, considering it covers about 70 percent of Earth’s surface. For many people, those special places where they feel closest to nature also include water.

Some of our contributors this week did visit special water places, often those with personal, historical or societal significance. Here’s a few of our favorites from the week:

Scenic overlook

Tabitha Eddy captured an incredible sunset while on the South Norfolk Jordan Bridge in Portsmouth, Va.

Unexpected beauty

Although entirely landlocked, Indiana still boasts some water places, like lakes and reservoirs. Our neighbor Sammy Condon posted this photo of the sun over Prairie Creek Reservoir in Muncie, Ind.

Special places of indigenous peoples

Moana Maniapoto is a member of the indigenous Polynesian people in New Zealand, the Māori. She submitted a few stories to Blue Roots Project last week, but this selfie shows her in the land of her father. See more of her submissions on her Instagram page.

Thanks to all who contributed this week and every week since we launched this project more than two months ago! This will be our final Best of blog post, but be on the lookout for a special feature we’re publishing in the coming weeks.

Tech Innovations + Water

The week of World Water Day was a flurry of activity for the Blue Roots Project team and for people celebrating the day across the globe. On World Water Day alone we received more than 100 submissions to the #MyWaterStory campaign. It’s now been nearly a month since World Water Day 2017, and even longer since we launched Blue Roots Project, but we’re still collecting water stories and highlighting the stories of our contributors.

The continued submissions we receive through the website and on social media are a reminder of the importance of water and the work happening around the world related to the water crisis, not just on World Water Day. This week brought a couple interesting submissions that apply tech we use in other areas of our lives (data analytics and robots!) to challenges we face related to the water crisis.

This week we’re highlighting a couple submissions we received this week that are promoting innovation and the use of technology to help solve water issues.

Edrop + prototyping for change

The company behind this gadget made an appearance at Hardware Massive in Warsaw, Poland. Although the event wasn’t focused on water, what a great opportunity for the makers of the device, which provides data about water usage to encourage users to conserve water.

Students tap robot to help with waterway cleanup

Here’s trash collected by the robot, called Rubbish Ray, from a waterway in the Washington, D.C.-area.

Ninth graders created Rubbish Ray to help cleanup waterways in their Washington, D.C.-area community. The robot, developed last year, collects trash in water. The project is hoping to expand its number of robots through a fundraising campaign that started this year. Here’s their story, in the words of Gavriel who submitted their story on our website:

Our robot, the Rubbish Ray, is an autonomous system that collects trash from nearby streams and rivers. This year, in the 9th grade, we used our robot to collect over a kilogram of trash from a local stream for our science fair project. However, in the future, we plan to expand both the functionality and design of our robot. We plan to develop a multi-robot platform that is able to operate in a swarm to organize trash collection routes, as well as dispose of trash on its own. In addition, we have designed a new prototype that will allow for rapid reproduction, and the creation of more units.

The current state of the Potomac River and nearby streams reflects the years of neglect placed upon it. Both chemical and solid waste choke our waterways, waterways that should be enjoyed by the citizens, and healthy for the wildlife that call them home. The large amounts of solid waste have many harmful effects on the health of aquatic ecosystems. These include the interruption of sunlight reaching plants below the water’s surface, ingestion of trash by fish, birds, and other marine organisms, and the further leakage of chemical waste into the water. In addition to the environmental effects, the pollution of our waterways also has impacts on human beings. Over 34,000 citizens in the Chesapeake bay region rely on the health of the watershed for their income. From fishermen to tour guides, the watershed provides an income to many people, and if the water is polluted, their lively hoods are threatened. Our project aims to help alleviate these problems that have been observed in our community, and to help improve the health of a resource shared by all. However, support is needed to reach our goal. In order to build three, large, Autonomous robots, we need to raise approximately $500.

Interested in learning more? Here’s the fundraising page for the project.

Water advocates wear many hats

A person’s passion for environmental and water advocacy grows over time through unique experiences. However, it all starts with a significant moment that catches our attention, potentially turning us into lifelong advocates.

For the members of the Blue Roots Project team, those moments, stories or events are different for each one of us, but we all have become more involved and aware of the water crisis and the environment by working on this project. The topic of water and its related challenges consumes much of our time and our conversations, even outside this project. Because once you learn the reality of water issues and get involved, it becomes impossible to ignore.

Those who have contributed thus far to the Blue Roots Project come from all walks of life and are often advocates through their day jobs and after hours. This week, we’re highlighting our contributors and the different hats they wear as water advocates.


Gale Johns

This jewelry designer (Raging River Designs) also works with Missouri River Relief as a “hard core” crew member.

Delaney Jackson

Delaney has submitted a few stories since the launch of Blue Roots Project. She’s this year’s Miss Central Indiana’s Outstanding Teen, competing on a platform focused on water issues in Africa via Team World Vision.

Sembera Simon

Sembera Simon is another Blue Roots contributor who has submitted multiple stories. In his most recent, he shares a photo working on water issues with Tusenvule, a charity organization in Busoga, Uganda, outside of his job in construction as a quality assurance engineer in hydraulics.

Melinda Alfano

Another regular contributor, Melinda is definitely involved in the water space, through her education and career. But she’s also just like many of us involved in these issues who work toward bettering the environment and our waterways at many different levels, including small steps even at home.

Blue Roots + Project WET in the Classroom and Beyond

As our future leaders, policymakers and influencers, children and youth are key voices in the global conversation about the value of water. We were thrilled to be able to partner with the Project WET Foundation to offer water- and conservation-related resources for educators, as well as encourage students to share their water stories. Their fresh and unique perspectives remind us that water is the foundation for life and the most basic of human rights.

We acknowledge the difficulty educators have incorporating activities such as sharing a #MyWaterStory into their days. We appreciate any water stories we receive from the classroom and from students and want to highlight their work. Thanks to those who have contributed to the conversation.

Shorecrest Preparatory School

Katy Deegan of Shorecrest Preparatory School helped some students make videos offering conservation tips, talking about water in their daily lives and reflecting on its value to the human race. Watch them all here:


Combining youth and creativity

Country Water Partnership-Armenia acknowledged the importance of students in the future of water by incorporating students and educators into their World Water Day activities and changed things up this year to incorporate a creative aspect for the youth.

Country Water Partnership scientific, environmental NGO together with its partner Sustainable Water Environment NGO held its regular conference on World Water Day. The conference was held at Nairi Hall of Ani Plaza Hotel on March 22, 2017. Representatives of governmental organizations (RA MOH, Ministry of Energy, Infrastructure and Natural Resources, Ministry of Environment Protection, State Committee of Water System) private sector and civil society, mass media (Armenian TV and public radio), as well as students and teachers of schools from five different communities (43 in total) took part in the event. This time the event varied in its format: except the official part, the conference had also a creative, cultural and colorful part.

The conference was preceded by WWD “Why Waste Water- wastewater as water resource” trainings held for 6-8 grade students of public schools of five communities (Yerevan School N155, Nor Kharberd School N2, Spitak town school N2, Gegharkuniq and Margahovit schools). The goal of the trainings was to speak about the most important issues on water and wastewater. The trainers interactively covered the issues on water importance, wasting and pollution of water, the hidden potential of wastewater and the ways of wastewater reuse. Thematic cartoons were screened after the trainings and the students were tasked to draw thematic pictures to be presented at the conference scheduled on March 22, 2017.

Student artwork

Thanks to Avery for this great drawing of Niagara Falls.

Students in action

Although our pages are specifically designed for students in kindergarten through high school, college students are also active and contribute to conservation efforts and the water space. Sifa Dogan of Cyprus International University shared this story about the work of her students:

Me and my students in Cyprus International University are testing the removal of persistent organic pollutants from water ! I will be presenting a seminar about our work on 22nd of March 2017 with Earth Science Engineers Association! North Cyprus, Nicosia.

Love Letters to Water and Those Who Fight For It, Part Two

Today’s post is a follow up to Part One on submissions from the week of World Water Day. There were so many worthy contributions to highlight, we didn’t think one post would be enough. So below are more love letters to water and its advocates, including stories that communicate a respect and passion for the water space in photos, poems and personal writings.

Vacation memories come flooding back

Midnight Harvest posted this video from a vacation in Maine in honor of World Water Day.

Reposting this oldie but goodie in honor of #worldwaterday this was from our vacation to gorgeous Maine! #water is all around you. It is in the ground you walk on, the #plants you #love, the #trees you walk through. It can be in the air or pour from the #clouds it has no end and no beginning because it is part of a greater cycle than you and I. Our bones contain water. It is the first thing to look for as a sign on #life on other planets. Without it – there can be no life. Take care of it for it will take care of you. . . . #maine #puremichigan #michigan #traversecity #tcmi #spring #mattdamon #scientist #nature #natural #motherearth #naturephotography #natgeo #nationalgeographic #photography #waterfalls #waterfall

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Finding love (for water) later in life

Scott Mitchell wrote to us about how a career change for him turned into environmental advocacy. Here’s his story in his own words:

At this stage of my life (58) I never dreamed that I would be starting another career. With retirement just a few years away, an industrial injury created a new opportunity which turned a near death experience into a feeling that I can help make a positive impact on my local environment. I was never a polluter, I recycled and didn’t liter. My jobs since I was 16 always involved mechanics and heavy equipment, and I thought I worked and lived my life without hurting this planet. But now as a certified Stormwater Compliance & Enforcement Inspector for a beautiful waterfront community in the desert region of Arizona I see how much damage each and every human can cause to lakes, rivers, streams and local watersheds. Protecting the waters of the U.S. has now become a passion. I love to educate others about the importance of protecting one of our most precious and valuable resources.


Love of water, respect for life
A love for water can extend beyond its aesthetic or status. A love for water can also mean  passion and respect for communities that desperately need it or access to it. Here, Global Brigades highlights the story of two men who are working together to improve a Nicaraguan community with a water system.

Water EMPLOYS. Jairo Cortez (left) and Don Luis Olivas stand together discussing Global Brigades' most recent water project's construction for five communities of San Rafael del Norte in Jinotega, Nicaragua. Jairo has been working with Global Brigades over the course of two years as a Brigade Coordinator. In his role, he has brought hundreds of students to Global Brigades water sites. His job is to support and facilitate students while they learn and work alongside Global Brigades's partner communities. Don Luis Olivas (right) will also benefit from being employed because of the water system. Once this water system is complete by mid-April, the system will need a plumber. Don Luis has served on the system's Water Council since the project was initiated in November 2016. Prior to being on the Water Council he was the President of the Sanitation Council when Global Brigades worked with his community of San Gabriel to install showers, latrines, and concrete floors. All of this experience makes Don Luis well-qualified to be elected in the the position of the new water system's plumber. In this paid position he has been trained by the municipal government on how to fix pipes if there are any breaks, as well as routinely add chlorine to the water to maintain it's potability. Share this post and help us celebrate World Water Day! #GlobalBrigades #GB365 #WaterBrigades #WaterIsLife #Nicaragua #WWD2017 #MyWaterStory

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A relationship with water

Dede Cummings submitted a poem to the website following a trip to Cuba with the Green Writers Press. Dede tells us the story behind her work:

I am a writer and a publisher, climate activist, in Vermont. I grew up in southern Rhode Island, right on the water. My piece is about me, and my relationship to water and how water is life. The women of Standing Rock have inspired me to take action, and I recently traveled to Cuba to guide our first annual Green Writers Press Environmental Writing Trip to Cuba. We visited other writers and artists in Cuba, organic farmers, and park rangers and biologists, in order to raise awareness of the threatened ecosystem of the Cienaga de Zapata (Zapata Swamp), the largest conserved mangrove swamp in the Caribbean where the coral is also remarkably well-preserved and unique in the world. This area is sacred to the Cubans and is also the location for the Bay of Pigs Invasion of 1961. What I found there was the realization that the area is threatened and we must act now to protect the migrating birds, the bats, the turtles, and the fauna, there, and around the world. This is why I am submitting my story.

Read Dede’s poem.

Love Letters to Water and Those Who Fight For It, Part One

Our Blue Roots Project team is still recovering from jetlag after a whirlwind experience at the Vatican for World Water Day 2017. But just as we were hard at work at the Watershed conference, you all were also working hard, submitting stories and raising awareness of the value of water in honor of World Water Day. We received so many wonderful submissions we couldn’t possibly highlight them all in just one blog post. So this Best of blog post will be released in two parts.

The week’s submissions were marked by World Water Day, on Wednesday during the submission period. It was clear the day reignited passion people have for water, drawing out beautiful memories and inspiring art, writings and posts that tell a story about their love and respect for water and those fighting to protect it.

We received so many stories, but we thought the best ones this week communicated that passion, love and respect for water that we hope is contagious, as we draw from those feelings to move toward greater awareness and, eventually, action in addressing the world’s water crises. These feelings echoed our own, as we sat feet from Pope Francis as he urged the world to protect the “treasure” that is water, and witnessed the coming together of many influential voices in the water space during the Watershed conference.

So without further adieu, here are our favorite love letters to water and those fighting for it, from the week of World Water Day.

Desire for a better future for water
Shannon Anderson tells of her beginnings in New York where she could play in her backyard creeks, to the polluted waters in Indiana where she now calls home.

Today is #worldwaterday – I grew up in the creeks near my home in WNY and finger lakes of central NY during summer camp. This is Lake Cayuga. This is me. When I moved away, I was shocked to hear stories about kids who couldn't play in their creeks and lakes and rivers due to pollution. Kids who grew up along the Ohio River here in my state of Indiana knew they couldn't swim in it. This isn't okay. This is not just about childhood play, it's about the harm we do to ecosystems and water that everything living depends on. We can't un-contaminate our waterways and ground water. We must treat it as the precious resource it is. I want my kid and all kids to enjoy a world of safe water and it is heartbreaking that it's too late now for too many. #flintwatercrisis is heartbreaking #dapl is heartbreaking #coalash is heartbreaking. Please join the movement to defend our waterways and accept no excuses from industry and politicians why we can't all have creeks and lakes that any kid can't go in. That's my #MyWaterStory

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Celebrating the role of water in everyday life
Kelsie Wrae urges her Instagram and Facebook followers to remember the impact of clean water every time they turn on their faucets.

Happy World Water Day! Today, we focus our attention on the importance of freshwater, and thank those who advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. You might ask, “Why is it so important to take a day to recognize water?” To better understand this question, it’s crucial to understand the vital role water plays in our everyday life. Celebrating World Water Day is about taking the time to appreciate the role water plays in our day-to-day life. It is estimated that in the United States, the average person uses between 100 and 250 liters of clean and safe water every day. That’s more than 10 times as much water being used daily in underdeveloped countries. Take a moment today to think about how much water you use every day, and recognize how fortunate we are to have it at our disposal. Next time you turn on your faucet, remember how access to clean and safe water positively affects our lives, our economies, and our societies. #MyWaterStory #WorldWaterDay2017 #worldwaterday

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A love poem to my backyard creek

Madison Vorva sent us the love poem she wrote for her backyard creek ten years ago, with a photo.

Passion passed down to younger generations

Lin Rongxiang of Singapore wrote to us about the influence of two Singaporean leaders, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and his wife Madam Kwa Geok Choo. Lin writes that as lawyers the husband and wife duo “believed in subscribing to the international laws and governing dynamics of our planet, and this includes the United Nations.” She goes on to say that their leadership impacted generations to come:

Ordinary citizens like me were taught since a very tender age that water is an existential issue for Singapore.

You can also read her letter in full here.

Expressing love of water with paint

Oregon artist Abigail Losli marked World Water Day with her own day of painting water and posted a short reflection on Instagram. We also loved this statement about her work on her website:

Our lives are marked by the ebb and flow of choices and consequences, moments and seasons. Examining patterns of movement in water enables me to explore themes of change and rest, while working in series elevates the way parts comprise a whole. I see a parallel in the way small moments compose a meaningful life.

Water is both spiritual and practical, life-giving and necessary, powerful and gentle, unnerving and soothing. It connects us all.

Stay tuned for Part Two, which we’ll publish tomorrow.

Continuous learning in the water space

When I was in college, I had a friend whose family owned a house near the shoreline in Delaware. The first time she invited me, we could take the boogie boards out and catch some waves. It was a couple years later when I had the opportunity to return, but this time, the waves weren’t the same. I later learned why: The shoreline in Delaware was receding, and the state was forced to add sand altering the beaches and the waves.

Water spaces are changing constantly, and rapidly, because of changes in our climate and environment. People who work in the water space have to be agile, always learning and adjusting to this powerful, ever-changing, ever-flowing resource.

This week’s top submissions teach us something, or are from people who teach others about water. Some of the contributors are on the ground, working in communities to improve their water and their water education. As we prepare for World Water Day, we want to remind everyone of their efforts.

Remember the audience

Mina Gholizadeh of Iran shares an important lesson about water, technology and combining the two, useful to all who work in the water space.

Smart meters! This is a new story of using technology for management of groundwater, in Iran. Now I’m working as a smart meters supervisor. We had installed them on agriculture wells while the farmers didn’t like them because of limitating available water. There are many lessons can be learned. But one of them is very important. Before using any kinds of technologies, you should analyze the stockholders. I want to say predicting social behaviour of humans is definitely more vital than using new technologies.

Different perspectives

Cory Wright shared this powerful water story, to help us all remember that people have different relationships with water where they live.

Water facts–Dead Sea edition

The Water Places Project schools us on the Dead Sea with one Instagram post.

"Dead Sea," 2014… . The surface and shores of the Dead Sea, also known as the Salt Sea, are 423 meters (1,388 ft.) below sea level, making it Earth's lowest elevation on land. It borders Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west… The ancient and salty Dead Sea is the site of both history and healing. It was one of the world's first health resorts (for Herod the Great). Yet in the past 40 years, the lake has shrunk by a third and sunk 80 feet. Experts believe it could disappear in as little as 50 years, due to neighboring countries drawing water from the River Jordan (the Sea's only water source). . UPDATE, The Guardian, March 20, 2015: "Jordan, one of the most water-scarce states, is facing a perfect storm of pressures including chronic water scarcity, overuse, waste and a surge in demand caused by refugee arrivals, according to a report by Mercy Corps, an NGO. "To add to the water stress, the country is undergoing the driest rainy season in decades. One proposed solution is to be implemented by mid-2018, after Jordan's signing of a controversial water-sharing agreement with Israeli and the Palestinian authorities in December, after decades of discussions…paving the way for the Red Sea Dead Sea water conveyor (RSDSWC) project…" . #thewaterplacesproject #waterplaces #thedeadsea #deadsea #israel #riverjordan #jordan #westbank #palestine #waterscarcity #redsea #dryseasons #waterconveyance #waterislife #refugeecrisis #mywaterstory #contemporaryart #worksonpaper #climatechange #watersharing #waterstories

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Passing on water knowledge

Melinda Alfano shares a tweet about her water story, passing on knowledge to primary school children in Barbados.

Reminder from water

Here’s a tweet from @grigomcmahon of photos during a journey. A reminder that no matter how often you take a certain path, there’s something new to see every time.

If you want to share water knowledge with young people close to you, check out our water education resources, provided by the Project WET Foundation.

The World’s “Water Warriors”

We, the creators of the Blue Roots Project, found ourselves over a year ago beginning to explore the water space. For most of us, the freshwater crisis was something we had heard of, but not exactly a cause that was on our radars.

Early on in the process of creating Blue Roots Project we found we weren’t alone among those in our age group and demographic in not understanding the depth and breadth of the water crisis. We would also discover a world of challenges related to water (like water delivery infrastructure, quality, management of water systems, politics surrounding access to water) and experts, scientists, nonprofits and individuals who work every day addressing those challenges. However, we found that just as many interest groups are working against these efforts, for one reason or another.

That is why we’ve begun to call these advocates in the water space “water warriors.” It’s not unique to us or this project, but it’s accurate in how seriously these folks take their work in the water space. Sifting through this week’s submissions reminded me of this term, as so many of our submissions were from water warriors or were highlighting their work.

Women warriors

Women are such an important group as it relates to water, both as water warriors and as a group that bears much of the burden of a lack of access to clean water. With International Women’s Day last week, we saw many inspiring posts about women water warriors. Here’s one from the Groundwater Foundation:

Water warriors assist Ugandan community

Sembera Simon created this presentation to share a story about Tusenvule working with a small community in Uganda to rehabilitate a water source that was previously filled with algae.

Water workshop

Melinda Alfano shared a photo of herself with Sarabeth B. Brockley and Lydia Slack following a water workshop and time in the Dead Sea.

Running warrior

Water issues have an advocate in Miss Central Indiana’s Outstanding Teen Delaney Jackson, who shared a photo of herself after the Mill Race Marathon in Columbus, Indiana. Money raised benefited World Vision, an NGO that works to bring clean water to people around the world.

Warrior point of view

As water warriors, artists and creatives bring a valuable perspective to the water conversation, providing glimpses of water in its most beautiful state or even when it’s scary or ugly. Wetlands and water photographer Paul Stewart shared his water story with a piece in a series he’s working on about viewpoints.


Reconnecting with Water

Water comprises the majority of the human body, but as human beings our connection to water goes beyond its healthful and life-giving qualities. Water can shape the trajectory of our lives and provide experiences that we remember for a lifetime.

This week’s top submissions are all about reconnecting with water, through personal memories, a walk around a neighborhood or helping to remind others of their connection to nearby waterways.

A memory from Lake Michigan

Derek spent his summers on the shores of Lake Michigan and shared a photo of himself on the lake.

An evolving water story

Blake tweeted about the impact of water on his childhood, and beyond.

Larger-than-life reminder

Merijn Everaarts, founder of Dopper, not only offers an alternative to plastic bottles through his business’s product, but is also working on an installation of the Brooklyn Bridge to raise awareness of the harm of plastic bottles to our waterways and remind people about the importance of caring for water. Below is just a screenshot, but here’s the link to see the video.

Rediscovering a connection to water in your own neighborhood

Leslie shared this short video out in the elements in Indianapolis.

Source of inspiration

Baton Rouge artist Meghan Ogans shares her mixed-media abstract piece, Sea of Glass.

Perspectives on water: from our backyards to yours

Part of the beauty of the Blue Roots Project and #MyWaterStory campaign is that through social media and mobile technology, people from all over the world can share their diverse perspectives on water, from policy and access to aesthetic and quality. We hope that we’ve made it simple to tell your storyfrom wherever you are.

We know there are still so many people out there with water stories our project may not reach. If you know someone with a story to share, please let us know or share our project with them.

This week’s roundup of submissions offer a global view of water, from its beauty to its challenges.

From Washington to Cambodia: The Dare to Love Project

Dee Benton, of Washington state, and her two daughters Faith and Rachel started The Dare to Love Project about three years ago to help orphans in Cambodia. They’re currently raising money through the DTL Water Challenge.

From Wisconsin to Cancun, Mexico: our biggest fan and best supporter

Sometimes moms can be our biggest supporters and champions for the work that we do. Since the launch of the Blue Roots Project, one contributor has shared more than 25 contributions to #MyWaterStory and through the worldwatervalues.org website. But Daiva Manfredini is not only a major contributorshe’s also the mom of Aiste Manfredini, our communication strategist.

Aiste is our social media queen and an excellent ambassador of the Blue Roots Project. Her passion for water and the environment and her connections within this already active community have provided a perspective that only Aiste brings to the Blue Roots Project team. She is an environmental advocate to everyone she meets, her family included. We have all loved seeing her mom Daiva’s beautiful photos and captions. A Lithuanian native, Daiva has also encouraged others to contribute to the project, adding diverse perspectives from around the globe and far beyond the town in Wisconsin where she now lives.

Although we’ve enjoyed all of Daiva’s submissions, here’s the latest—a video set to music from Playa Delfines in Cancun. Thanks Daiva for your continued support!

From the Great Plains of America: The Water Places Project

An artist in the Great Plains uses water to inspire her work. She posted this piece about water in the language of a tribe native to the Great Plains.

From Oregon to faraway nations: making purified water a possibility

Puralytics shared this photo of their product and water purifier Solarbag, along with an important stat about the need for access to clean water in some nations around the world.

From Lake Ontario–a source of beauty and drinking water

From Nora on a visit to Nelles Beach on Lake Ontario.