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Free exhibit on safe water shows its value, how to provide it to everyone

By David Pendered

The Global Water Center has opened at the Mall of Georgia a Mobile Discovery Center that is part of an effort to help end the world’s water crisis by building consensus around generally accepted safe water practices.

Interactive displays in the Global Water Center’s exhibit aim to increase awareness of, and support for, clean water for everyone. Credit: globalwatercengter.org

The GWC isn’t bashful in stating its goal for the exhibit: “to generate awareness and inspire a movement of millions of people working to end the global water crisis.” The exhibit’s sponsors include Kohler Co., Pace Analytical and Rockstad Foundation.

The Mobile Discovery Center is open Wednesday through Sunday at a site in the mall’s parking lot. Interactive, multi-sensory displays are designed for children, teens and adults with formats in augmented reality and RFID. Admission is free.

The Global Water Center is a non-profit entity based in North Charleston, S.C. The GWC was established in 2020 and has not yet been required to file a federal tax return, according to its listing by the GuideStar monitoring agency.

GWC’s executive director, Chris Holdorf, said in a statement a third of the world’s population lacks access to safe water and a unified response is needed to address the situation.

“The global water crisis is too complex to solve unless a consortium of organizations and individuals work together in development and execution of a unified, strategic plan,” Holdorf said. “Without it, we face inconsistent water standards, lack of monitoring and accountability, and low public awareness. The Mobile Discovery Center ties it all together and shows how we can successfully tackle these issues.”

Clean water and sanitation is one of the U.N.s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Credit: sdgs.un.org

Of note, in 2015 the United Nation adopted “Clean Water and Sanitation” as one of its 17 goals on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The agenda aims to end poverty and reduce inequality while tackling climate change. On March 21, the U.N. observed World Water Day and its theme, “Valuing Water,” by releasing results of a listening exercise.

The exhibit has three themes, according to a statement:

  • “Water Is Life highlights the three states of water – liquid, gas and solid. It explores the uniqueness of water on Earth through powerful visuals that demonstrate why it is essential to life and how access to safe water helps humans maintain good health.
  • “Water and People reveals almost every aspect of life that is impacted by water. It details the advantages and opportunities of reliable access to abundant, safe water and the obstacles presented by water scarcity and/or unsafe water. It features the Water Challenge game to test visitors’ knowledge of safe water issues and provides other fun, educational interactive experiences.
  • “Safe Water for Everyone uses augmented reality to highlight how the best technologies and plans help secure sources of safe water for populations in need. It showcases people that have risen from poverty to attain good health and well-being when provided access to safe water.”

The program arrives at a time and place of particular relevance as metro Atlanta grapples with its own water needs.

Interactive displays in the Global Water Center’s exhibit are intended to engage viewers in the message of clean water for everyone. Credit: globalwatercengter.org

For starters, outdoor watering remains restricted, year-round, to 4 p.m. to 10 a.m., according to the current report by the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District. The region is not under any level of drought, according to the May 13 report by U.S. Drought Monitor, but that could change fairly quickly.

In addition, state and regional leaders continue to assess water practices in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s April 1 ruling that Georgia doesn’t have to change any water practices in order to release more water to Florida.

This traveling exhibit has a global scope underscored by the lack of safe water. The numbers as reported by the United Nations show:

  • 2 billion humans lack access to safe drinking water (2017);
  • 2 billion lack safely managed sanitation (2017);
  • 3 billion lack hand-washing facilities at home, meaning they’re impaired in the most basic method to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (2020-present);
  • 40% of health care facilities don’t have soap and water or alcohol-based hand cleansing facilities;
  • By 2030, 700,000 humans could be displaced by water scarcity.

Note to readers: The Global Water Center’s Mobile Discovery Center is scheduled to be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The exhibit is located in the parking area between Macy’s and JCPenny at the Mall of Georgia, 3333 Buford Drive, Buford, 30519.


David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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