One man’s journey to help solve the global water and sanitation crisis

November 19, 2018 Tony Petrucci

November 19 was World Toilet Day. Tony Petrucci talks about his volunteer work and why clean water is no laughing matter. 

 

Can you imagine a world where everyone has access to clean drinking water and proper sanitation? It’s not an impossible vision. World Toilet Day is on November 19. It may sound funny, but clean water is no joke. And neither is the fact that 2.1 billion people currently don’t have access to safe, reliable water, and even more—4.5 billion people—don’t have access to improved sanitation. I’d like to tell you about my work with Water For People, a global non-profit organization, and why I’m so passionate about trying to help solve the global water and sanitation crisis.

 

Currently, 2.1 billion people don’t have access to safe, reliable water, and even more—4.5 billion people—don’t have access to improved sanitation.

 

Water For People

My introduction to Water For People’s water, sanitation, and hygiene program began with a presentation I attended during the Water Environment Federation's Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference in Chicago in October 2004. Steve Werner was the Executive Director of Water For People at the time. He had one slide in his presentation that had the face of a child disappearing every 15 seconds to represent the number of children that are dying because of the global water and sanitation crisis—specifically from waterborne diseases.

_q_tweetable:Everyone should have access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation. It is a basic human right._q_

At the time, my daughter Lauren was only two years old. What I saw in Steve’s presentation was not acceptable. It was then that I decided to volunteer with Water For People - Canada. Everyone should have access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation. It is a basic human right. For all of us that are more fortunate and have the means to help, we have a moral obligation to help our global brothers and sisters.

For that reason, I have volunteered to assist the local volunteer committees in Ontario for the past 14 years. I help with fundraising efforts and awareness-building campaigns to support Water For People’s program work in nine countries. The work, which impacts more than four million people, involves delivering safe water, improved sanitation, and hygiene education services in cooperation with community members, governments, and other like-minded Non-Governmental Organizations.

I am also on my second tour of duty on the Water For People - Canada Board and currently serve as President with a goal of substantially-increasing our annual revenues to impact as many people as possible. Water For People wants to reach every school, every clinic, and every family in the countries and communities where we work, and at a scale where we can reach Everyone Forever – the name of our impact model.

 

World Toilet Day is on November 19.

 

A moral obligation

My most memorable volunteering experience came during my visit to Bolivia in 2008 to see the water and sanitation work in person. I will never forget the appreciation from families for Water For People’s assistance. Community leaders were so proud to secure the necessary funding and technical support to give their children the opportunity for a healthy and bright future.

That experience inspired me to continue to work hard here in Canada to raise awareness of the global water and sanitation crisis, and still inspires me today. We have a moral obligation to help in any way that we can, to make sure everyone has access to safe drinking water and sanitation forever.

I’m grateful to be able to share my story about our grassroots support for Water For People to aid those that need our help the most. This cause means so much to me, because it reflects the industry I work in.

 

Our Winnipeg team members had some fun with their Water For People fundraising, which included a Pie in the Face event. Aaditya Raman and Kevin Harbottle ended up with pastry on their faces, which gave their coworkers a good laugh while simultaneously raising money to help solve the global water and sanitation crisis.

 

Stantec volunteers stepping up

This year, Stantec volunteers stepped up to the challenge in 20 offices, and we raised more than $15,000 through employee giving and local fundraising efforts in each office. Every dollar raised to support Water For People’s water and sanitation work results in a 5-to-1 economic impact to those communities.

Special thanks to Julie Kauffman at Water For People for her efforts in helping us launch our employee giving campaign. I’d also like to pass along my deepest appreciation to our Stantec volunteers, Water For People volunteers, and Water For People - Canada volunteers, as well as to our industry partners that supported our fundraising and awareness-building activities through the month of October. We are definitely Better Together.

Please help me celebrate World Toilet Day today by helping Water For People, Water For People - Canada, or other like-minded NGOs to do our part to make sure safe drinking water and adequate sanitation reach Everyone Forever.

About the Author

Tony Petrucci

Tony Petrucci has over 24 years of consulting engineering experience for water and wastewater infrastructure projects. His experience includes project management, design, construction, commissioning, and management consulting for municipal and industrial sector clients. Tony has also worked in alternate project delivery and capital works.

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