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A Lasting Legacy

peasants with buckets

Credit: UN Photo/Kibae Park

The Water Institute responds to global challenges on World Water Day.


The statistics are astonishing.

Today, almost 1 billion have no safe drinking water, and more than one in three health care facilities in low-resource settings do not have access to water at all.

In the US, California faces a dire threat of water shortage owing to severe drought. Moreover, cities across the nation face upwards of $1 billion to replace decrepit water pipes installed over 80 years ago. The Chesapeake Bay, its tributaries and watershed are under threat from pollution, development, deforestation and overfishing.

As the global population grows and climate change intensifies, these and other water-related problems will increase in magnitude and intensity.

The complex interrelatedness of water, food, energy, climate and human health makes it difficult to devise solutions on a regional scale. Potential political and economic conflicts centered on a growing competition for water and other limited resources further complicate matters.

Yet we remain hopeful.

Since 1919, Johns Hopkins, through the Wolman father-and-son team, has spearheaded the response to global water challenges by passionately translating evidence-based research into public policy for the betterment of humanity. Abel Wolman’s push for policy legislation on the chlorination of drinking water in the United States was one of the most significant public health achievements of the 20th century.

Today, Johns Hopkins continues the legacy of water expertise in research, education and advocacy through a wide-variety of organizational units that span departmental and school boundaries. Through trans-disciplinary collaboration between faculty, students, NGOs and governments, we continue to develop new approaches that help communities evaluate water system disaster resiliency, and provide frameworks for the management of water infrastructure as well as agriculture.

The most pressing water issues for this century are ensuring reliable access to safe drinking water, and halting the pace of climate change that leads to water-related disasters such as drought and floods. At the Johns Hopkins Water Institute, our dedicated faculty and students discover evidence-based solutions problems that arise from the complex interplay of water, climate, energy, human behavior and public policy with the goal of improved public and environmental health.

A statement in commemoration of World Water Day 2015 by Kellogg J. Schwab, PhD, director of the Johns Hopkins University Water Institute and the JHU Global Water Program; and professor, Environmental Health Sciences.

The JHU Water Institute

Environmental Health Sciences