Who Is Responsible for Clean Water?
  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Discuss a public policy issue affecting the common good and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define and give examples of the motivations for giving and serving.
      2. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities and research.
    3. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Provide a needed service.

The youth learn how water safety is fragile. Even with good intentions, people and processes can cause major problems. They raise awareness of water issues and the importance of being vigilant about this shared need.

Photo Credit: Flint River by Sarah Razak is licensed under CC BY 2.0

PrintOne 45-Minute Session

The learners will:

  • communicate with others about the environmental cost of polluted water.
  • define clean water as a universal need and right. 
  1. Anticipatory Set

    Review the Flint Water Crisis and the factors that led to contamination of the water. Because of a government-level decision, the water distributed to homes had unsafe lead levels. Read about the damage caused by drinking and bathing in polluted water, and the steps Michigan (and philanthropists all over the country) took to restore clean water. Discuss what other practices can cause water pollution and contamination by chemicals. Discuss, What different actions can or should be taken by the government, businesses, and nonprofits (including citizens)?

  2. Define sustainability as a method of using resources so they are not damaged permanently (preserved for future generations). Define environmental stewardship as the careful and responsible management of our environment.

  3. Have a discussion about whether access to clean water is a need or a want.

    Further discussion: Is clean water a right of every person in the world? Whose responsibility is it to ensure everyone has access to clean water - the government, business, nonprofits, or individuals? 

  4. Young people may create informational and persuasive posters (or another artistic expression) to raise awareness about the importance of clean water and ways to promote sustainable water-use practices (avoid pouring toxic chemicals in the drains, use environmentally friendly soaps, conserve water, recycle “gray water,” harvest rainwater).

  5. Youth may communicate their advocacy for water sustainability to others through social media, posters, artistic expression, or other methods. They may start a campaign to promote the drinking of tap water in reusable bottles rather than drinking from disposable water bottles. 


Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted as saying, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” How can this quote encourage people to take care of the environment?