September 08, 2014

Lecture will examine world’s water challenges

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- An upcoming lecture at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will provide an update on steps for avoiding a global water crisis; a topic of great concern to the late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, founder of the institute that bears his name. 

Simon’s wife, Patti Derge Simon, and John Oldfield, CEO of WASH Advocates, a nonprofit, nonpartisan initiative dedicated to helping solve the world’s drinking water, sanitation and hygiene challenges, will present the lecture at 7 p.m., Sept. 17, in Student Center Ballroom B.

The discussion will also include an update on the status of the “Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act,” introduced in 2013. The legislation, according to the organization, “aims to modify” Simon’s 2005 Water for the Poor Act “and improve the efficiency with which the U.S. gives foreign aid for global safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene.”

The lecture is free and the public is invited. The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute is sponsoring the event.

“Water is at the core of so many of our problems around the world,” David Yepsen, institute director, said.  “Countries fight wars over water and there are the issues of water quality and disease. This isn’t just about the United States’ drinking water problems.”

Yepsen believes there is a “growing acceptance and understanding” of what Simon was talking about when he wrote about safe drinking water throughout the world. Simon authored a 1998 book, “Tapped Out: The Coming World Crisis in Water and What We Can Do About It.”  The book resulted in “Running Dry,” a 2005 documentary film that examined the world’s worsening water crisis.  The documentary played a major role in bringing the issue to Capitol Hill and passage of the Sen. Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005. 

Yepsen said regional issues involving water availability, water quality and fracking are present here.

“We think here in Southern Illinois we have an abundant supply of water, but long term a lot of local communities are concerned about the availability of water for their growth. It’s an issue everyone,” Yepsen said.

For more information on the program, contact the institute at 618/453-4009 or visit