Although 70%of the planet is covered by oceans, water is one of the world’s most precious resources. With all of those oceans, 98% of the water on earth is saltwater. That means only 2% of the water is freshwater and suitable for drinking. To make things even more complicated, 1.6% of the freshwater is frozen in glaciers and in the polar ice caps. This makes access to drinking water an international concern. As global warming affects climate, weather patterns will change and new challenges will arise. Explore the resources below to learn about organization working on national and international water issues.

Powell Consortium

The Powell Consortium is an alliance of 8 Water Resources Research Institutes and Centers from the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming formed to work on water resources problems of the Colorado River/Great Basin region. The Consortium utilizes the collective expertise of its member universities and over twenty other cooperating universities to develop and disseminate knowledge to solve problems of the Colorado/Great Basin Region and other arid regions of the world.

EPA International Cooperation: Water

The United States recognizes the importance of international cooperation in monitoring and protecting the world's aquatic environments and resources. The United States has joined with foreign governments and international organizations to form treaties and promote initiatives that address common concerns about our oceans and other water bodies. Among these cooperative actions are the International Coastal Cleanup project, The International Coral Reef Initiative and other programs targeted at "global commons" such as the polar regions.

Universities Council on Water Resources

The Universities Council on Water Resources (UCOWR) organization consists of over 90 member universities and organizations throughout the world. Some objectives include: facilitate water-related education at all levels and promote meaningful research and technology transfer on contemporary and emerging water resources issues.

USGS: United States Geological Survey Water Resources website.

This site includes extensive water related data, databases, and publications. The National Water Data Exchange (NAWDEX) and Selected Water Resource Abstracts (SWRA) can be accessed from this location. 

NIWR: National Institutes For Water Resources

This site is a gateway to each of the 54 Water Resources Institutes/Centers in the U.S.

UN Millennium Development Goals

One of the 8 major United Nations Millennium Goals is to “ensure environmental sustainability.” One specific objective included under this goal is: Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water. (

The United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was established by the UN General Assembly in December 1992 to ensure effective follow-up of United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Earth Summit. The Commission is responsible for reviewing progress in the implementation of Agenda 21 and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development; as well as providing policy guidance to follow up theJohannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) at the local, national, regional and international levels. The JPOI reaffirmed that the CSD is the high-level forum for sustainable development within the United Nations system. The CSD meets annually in New York, in two-year cycles, with each cycle focusing on clusters of specific thematic and cross-sectoral issues, outlined in its new multi-year program of work (2003-2017) (E/CN.17/2003/6).


Two of the goals of Agenda 21 specifically concern water resources:

17. Protection of the oceans, all kinds of seas, including enclosed and semi-enclosed seas, and coastal areas and the protection, rational use and development of their living resources.

18. Protection of the quality and supply of freshwater resources: application of integrated approaches to the development, management and use of water resources.

UN Global Water Partnership

The Global Water Partnership is a working partnership among all those involved in water management: government agencies, public institutions, private companies, professional organizations, multilateral development agencies and others committed to the Dublin-Rio principles.

World Water Council

The World Water Council was established in 1996 in response to increasing concern from the global community about world water issues. Its mission is to promote awareness, build political commitment and trigger action on critical water issues at all levels, including the highest decision-making level, to facilitate the efficient management and use of water in all its dimensions and on an environmentally sustainable basis.

International Water Resources Association

WRA has strived to improve water management worldwide through dialogue, education, and research for over 35 years. Since its official formation in 1972, the organization has actively promoted the sustainable management of water resources around the globe.

• 13th World Water Congress

The objective of the XIIIth World Water Congress is to enhance the world’s knowledge and raise global consciousness of the impact of global changes on water resources. The Congress contributes to the study of our planet’s water resources by bringing together wide-interest participation, conferences and communications. 

    Pacific Institute’s website

    A site dedicated to providing water information, data, and resources to individuals, organizations, and institutions working on solutions to a wide range of global freshwater problems.