On April 18, people will come together across the globe for The Dow Live Earth Run for Water. Alexandra Cousteau, globally recognized advocate on water quality and policy (and granddaughter of Jacques Cousteau), is partnering with Live Earth to make it all happen.

Alexandra, who admits to getting much of her environmental news here on Mother Nature Network (after all, she is on our advisory board and has a show on our site), answered some questions about this exciting event that is the first global effort to not only increase awareness about the global water crisis but also give people multiple entry points for getting engaged and being a part of the solution.

MNN: What’s going to happen at this event?

Alexandra Cousteau: On April 18, there will be a series of 6-kilometer runs and walks. Six kilometers is the average distance most women and children in many countries walk every day to secure water for their families. The runs and walks will be taking place in countries around the world over the course of 24 hours, and there will also be live musical performances, concerts and water education activities. The hope is that all of these events happening on the same day in so many parts of the world will unite a global movement to talk about these problems.

Where will you be on that day and what will you be doing?

I don’t know yet. There are so many options … I will be wherever they need me.

If a person can’t join a run or a walk in the locations where they are being held, what else can they do on April 18?

People can organize walks around communities as part of the Friends of the Run for Water. Hopefully, people will be organizing those events over the course of the next six months so that we can have as many people running as possible.

They can also raise funds for sustainable, scalable water projects that can be implemented in developing world countries where they are most needed.

What fact or statistic do you think that most Americans would be shocked by when it comes to the water situation?

Here are a few. Unsafe water causes 80 percent of all illness and disease, and kills more people every year than all forms of violence, including war, in developing countries.

Children are the ones who are especially vulnerable to the consequences of unsafe water, and of the 42,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water, 90 percent of them are children under 5.

Women and children spend 40 billion hours a year collecting water. That translates into billions of hours of school being missed and lack of education and perpetuating poverty and all of those terrible, vicious cycles that we want to see stopped.

As horrible as that sounds, the water crisis isn’t just happening in the developing world. Australia is having terrible droughts. The western United States is having horrible droughts. Water managers are pulling their hair out trying to figure out how to deliver water to communities right here in the United States. Water tables are falling, climate is changing, and we need to stop thinking that this is somebody else’s problem.

Aside from this event, what can people do day to day in their own homes to help with our world water problems?

There’s a lot that people can do. 

  • Turn off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth or shaving.
  • Use appliances only when they are full.
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Capture as much water as possible to use in the garden. It’s really easy to install water-harvesting barrels.
  • For those who have a pool, put a pool cover over the pool to reduce evaporation.
As simple as these things might sound, I encourage people to think about taking action in their own homes because it will affect the quality of their lives in the future. Every little thing that we do actually has a cumulative effect over the course of our lifetime that is incredibly important.

Also, it’s really important to think about how our energy use and our greenhouse emissions contribute to climate change because water is the vehicle through which we will feel the effects of climate change. There isn’t a single water shaping environment that isn’t going to be impacted by climate change whether it’s the melting of the poles, the rising of the sea levels, melting glaciers, increased severity of storms, or increased severity of droughts.

All of these things are being impacted by climate change so our energy use is something we need to keep in mind as well. Unplugging appliances, turning out lights, downsizing a car, and using more public transportation can contribute to helping to conserve water resources as well.

Want more Alexandra? Watch her video series right here on MNN.