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- Quotes and Facts -


(Initially compiled by the Water Office -US EPA)

Water is essential for all dimensions of life.  Over the past few decades, use of water has increased, and in many places water availability is falling to crisis levels. More than eighty countries, with forty percent of the world’s population, are already facing water shortages, while by year 2020 the world’s population will double. The costs of water infrastructure have risen dramatically. The quality of water in rivers and underground has deteriorated, due to pollution by waste and contaminants from cities, industry and agriculture. Ecosystems are being destroyed, sometimes permanently. Over one billion people lack safe water, and three billion lack sanitation; eighty per cent of infectious diseases are waterborne, killing millions of children each year. (more...)

World Bank Institue

Water is the best of all things.

PINDAR (C. 522-C. 438 B.C.), Olympian Odes

Water has become a highly precious resource. There are some places where a barrel of water costs more than a barrel of oil.

Lloyd Axworthy, Foreign Minister of Canada (1999 - News Conference)

More than one-half of the world's major rivers are being seriously depleted and polluted, degrading and poisoning the surrounding ecosystems, thus threatening the health and livelihood of people who depend upon them for irrigation, drinking and industrial water

Ismail Serageldin, Chairman of the World Commission on Water for the 21st Century- Water Forum, Netherlands, November 30, 1999

If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.

LORAN EISELY, The Immense Journey, 1957

All the water that will ever be is, right now.

National Geographic, October 1993

If you gave me several million years, there would be nothing that did not grow in beauty if it were surrounded by water.

JAN ERIK VOLD, What All The World Knows, 1970

Water is H2O, hydrogen two parts, oxygen one, but there is also a third thing, that makes water and nobody knows what that is.

D.H. LAWRENCE (1885-1930), Pansies, 1929

Water has no taste, no color, no odor; it cannot be defined, art relished while ever mysterious. Not necessary to life, but rather life itself. It fills us with a gratification that exceeds the delight of the senses.

ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPERY (1900-1944), Wind, Sand, and Stars, 1939

Water is the one substance from which the earth can conceal nothing; it sucks out its innermost secrets and brings them to our very lips.

JEAN GIRAUDOUX (1882-1944), The Madwomen of Chaillot, 1946

When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, (1706-1790), Poor Richard's Almanac, 1746

The crisis of our diminishing water resources is just as severe (if less obviously immediate) as any wartime crisis we have ever faced. Our survival is just as much at stake as it was at the time of Pearl Harbor, or the Argonne, or Gettysburg, or Saratoga

JIM WRIGHT, U.S. Representative, The Coming Water Famine, 1966

High quality water is more than the dream of the conservationists, more than a political slogan; high quality water, in the right quantity at the right place at the right time, is essential to health, recreation, and economic growth.

EDMUND S. MUSKIE, U.S. Senator, speech, 1 March 1966

Children of a culture born in a water-rich environment, we have never really learned how important water is to us. We understand it, but we do not respect it.

WILLIAM ASHWORTH, Nor Any Drop to Drink, 1982

Of all our planet's activities--geological movements, the reproduction and decay of biota, and even the disruptive propensities of certain species (elephants and humans come to mind)--no force is greater than the hydrologic cycle.


Between earth and earth's atmosphere, the amount of water remains constant; there is never a drop more, never a drop less. This is a story of circular infinity, of a planet birthing itself.

LINDA HOGAN, Northern Lights, Autumn 1990

Filthy water cannot be washed.


If you could tomorrow morning make water clean in the world, you would have done, in one fell swoop, the best thing you could have done for improving human health by improving environmental quality.

WILLIAM C. CLARK, speech, Racine, Wisconsin, April 1988

In every glass of water we drink, some of the water has already passed through fishes, trees, bacteria, worms in the soil, and many other organisms, including people...Living systems cleanse water and make it fit, among other things, for human consumption.

ELLIOT A. NORSE, in R.J. Hoage, ed., Animal Extinctions, 1985

[Chesapeake Bay is] an immense outdoor protein factory.

H.L. MENCKEN (1880-1956), Happy Days, 1940

Estuaries are a happy land, rich in the continent itself, stirred by the forces of nature like the soup of a French chef; the home of myriad forms of life from bacteria and protozoan to grasses and mammals; the nursery, resting place, and refuge of countless.

STANELY A. CAIN, speech, 1966

Many estuaries produce more harvestable human food per acre than the best midwestern farmland.

STANELY A. CAIN, testimony, U.S. House of Representatives, Merchant Marine and Fisheries subcommittee, March 1967

The estuary is the point where man, the sea--his immemorial ally and adversary-and the land meet and challenge each other.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, National Estuarine Pollution Study, November 1969

Life originated in the sea, and about eighty percent of it is still there.

ISAAC ASIMOV, Isaac Asimov's Book of Science and Nature Quotations, 1988

The oceans are the planet's last great living wilderness, man's only remaining frontier on earth, and perhaps his last chance to produce himself a rational species.

JOHN L. CULLNEY, Wilderness Conservation, September- October 1990

The marsh, to him who enters it in a receptive mood, holds, besides mosquitoes and stagnation, melody, the mystery of unknown waters, and the sweetness of Nature undisturbed by man.

CHARLES WILLIAM BEEBE (1877-1962), Log of the Sun, 1906

Only those people that have directly experienced the wetlands that line the shore...can appreciate their mystic qualities. The beauty of rising mists at dusk, the ebb and flow of the tides, the merging of fresh and salt waters....


Ye marshes, how candid and simple and nothing-withholding and free, Ye publish yourselves to the sky and offer yourselves to the sea.

SIDNEY LANIER (1842-1881), "The Marshes of Glynn," 1878

Wetlands have a poor public image.... Yet they are among the earth's greatest natural assets... mankind's waterlogged wealth.

EDWARD MALTBY, Waterlogged Wealth, 1986



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