Wednesday, May 2, 2012

National Drinking Water Week

May 6-12, 2012

For more than 30 years, the American Water Works Association and its members have celebrated Drinking Water Week – a unique opportunity for both water professionals and the communities they serve to join together to recognize the vital role water plays in our daily lives. Join AWWA in celebrating the essential by celebrating water.

For more than 30 years, the American Water Works Association has celebrated Drinking Water Week with its members. In 1988, AWWA brought the event to the attention of our government and formed a coalition along with the League of Women Voters, the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators, and the US Environmental Protection Agency. Rep. Robert Roe and Sen. Dennis DeConcini subsequently sponsored a resolution to name the first week of May as National Drinking Water Week, and an information kit was distributed to the media and to more than 10,000 utilities. Willard Scott, the Today Show weatherman, was featured in public service announcements aired between May 2 and 8. The week-long observance was declared in a joint congressional resolution and signed by then President Ronald Reagan. 

The following year, AWWA approached several organizations to participate. Through these efforts, the National Drinking Water Alliance was formed of 15 nonprofit educational, professional, and public interest organizations. Original Alliance members:
  • American Water Works Association
  • American Consulting Engineers Council
  • American Public Health Association
  • American Society of Civil Engineers
  • Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies
  • Association of State Drinking Water Administrators
  • Grocery Manufacturers of America
  • National Association of Water Companies
  • National Drinking Water Advisory Council
  • National Water Alliance
  • Rural Community Assistance Program Incorporated
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture Extension Service
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Water And Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association
The Alliance dedicated itself to public awareness and involvement in public and private drinking water issues, and continued its work to organize a major annual educational campaign built around National Drinking Water Weeek.

The power of the multi-organization Alliance enabled National Drinking Water Week to grow into widespread and committed participation throughout the United States and Canada. In 1991, the Alliance launched a national campaign to inform the public about America's drinking water. The group distributed a kit containing ideas for celebrating Drinking Water Week, conservation fact and tip sheets, news release and posters. The theme was "There's a lot more to drinking water than meets the eye."

Due to the popularity and wide usage of the initial materials, the Alliance elected to create a stronger recognition and in 1992 created a valuable symbol, the "Blue Thumb", to serve as a focal point for the next campaign. While having a "Green Thumb" symbolizes the ability to nurture plants, "Blue Thumb" signifies care of water resources.

The Blue Thumb symbol provided an identity that has proven extremely valuable in building enthusiasm for Drinking Water Week and it helped the campaign grow dramatically. By 1994, more than 400 organizations across the country participated in Drinking Water Week, including affiliates of the Alliance partners, community groups, libraries and schools. The media campaign generated more than 800 newspaper placements reaching an audience of 12 million while a cable TV show reached an audience of nearly 10 million. Additionally, a public service announcement featuring Elaine Miles of the CBS-TV show Northern 

Exposure was also distributed to stations across the country.
In 2000 members of the Blue Thumb Alliance unanimously agreed to discontinue the Blue Thumb Project and Blue Thumb Kits. Given the decision to end the project, AWWA has placed all of the information and resources the Blue Thumb program provided on the Drinking Water Week web pages. While the Blue Thumb name and Blue Thumb kits no longer exist, AWWA is committed to continuing the campaign to raise public awareness and understanding of drinking water. By providing easily accessible and frequently updated information through the Internet, more individuals, communities and utilities are able to promote Drinking Water Week.

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