Lesson 1: Clean Water


Lake Itasca – Where it all begins

There are many sources of fresh water around the world. Your journey begins today at Lake Itasca, the primary source of the Mississippi River. Lake Itasca is located in north central Minnesota and is approximately 1.8 square miles in area.

Take a Tour of Lake Itasca

Visit the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website for a virtual tour of Lake Itasca.

Next, Answer a Few Questions About Lake Itasca

Answer the questions in your Lesson One Worksheet

Clean Water Access

Lesson 1 Vocabulary
Conditions that affect public health, especially providing clean water and ways to dispose of sewage or waste
Practices used to stay clean, maintain health and prevent disease
The process of making an area become more like a city
A community of living things (organisms) interacting with their physical environment

Water is considered an essential human need. The United Nations (UN) estimates that each person on Earth requires at least five to thirteen gallons of clean, safe water every day for drinking, cooking, disposing of waste (sanitation) and keeping themselves clean (hygiene). Stop to think for a minute about all the ways you use water in your everyday life.

As you read in the introduction, polluted water isn’t just dirty—it can be deadly. Millions of people die or get sick from water-related illnesses every year. But all this can be changed if we provide access to clean water for everyone around the world.

The issue is more than just having clean water—there is enough clean water to meet the needs of every person. Often the issue is access to that water. In many communities, people have to walk several miles each and every day to retrieve water from a well, lake or other source of water. The time spent collecting this water can affect human health, productivity and even educational opportunities. In other communities, access to water is available if you are able to pay for it. Many families cannot afford the cost and they go without the water they so desperately need.

While fresh water sources are important for providing clean water and sanitation around the world, there are many other factors involved. Things like financing, urbanization and the quality of ecosystems can also play a role in access to clean water. In this lesson, you will collect information about the many issues affecting the global water crisis.


UN Water Dimensions

As you learned in the introduction, the United Nations (UN) is working to improve access to water and sanitation worldwide.

Access Water Facts from the UN

Find important information provided by the UN about water and the many issues affecting the availability of water around the world. Click through to the website where the UN has categorized these issues into 12 larger groups they call “dimensions.” Use this information for the exercise listed below.

Explore 2-3 Dimensions from the UN Website

Working with a partner or small group, you will explore 2-3 dimensions from the UN Website. Collect them in your Lesson One Worksheet and be prepared to share the findings with the rest of the class.


Complete your Lesson One Travel Journal

Open your Water Guardians Travel Journal and complete the Lesson One entry.

Up Next: On the River

As you travel down the Mississippi River, you will learn about the communities that depend on this water. Sources of pollution will be investigated as well as pathways to advocate for positive change.