For most Americans, getting all the clean water needed for everyday living involves walking only as far as the kitchen or bathroom.
For nearly a billion of the Earth's inhabitants, the nearest water could be miles away and it often isn't fit for anyone to use, mixed with all manner of pollutants and disease-carrying contamination.
That's why the students in the Indiana University Northwest Geology Club got involved in the Thirst Project's Walk for Water program, which raises money to dig wells to provide freshwater to people in underdeveloped countries.
Started by a handful of California college students in 2007, the Thirst Project has gone national and raised more than $2.6 million. The money helped fund projects to bring clean water to more than 100,000. They have set a goal of getting clean water to a million people by 2015.
"We started reading stats about it, and the one that stood out to us is women and children have to walk four miles to a water source that probably is polluted. We started something that shows what they go through," said Ryan Venturelli, IUN Geology Club president.
This is the second year the club has organized the Walk for Water. This year the more than 150 volunteers carried empty milk jugs from the Miller Beach Aquatorium to Lake Michigan. After filling gallon milk jugs, they carried them down the beach to Shelby Street and south to Marquette Park, 900 Shelby, a distance of about a mile.
At the end of the trek, the participants had a new definition for the term "heavy water." They also heard talks about the water crisis while enjoying food and performances from area bands. Altogether, the volunteers raised about $5,000, enough for one well.
At the end of the demonstration, many of the volunteers carried the filled jugs back to the lake to empty them. That still left them a couple miles short of the average walk for water of many Third World people.
It's doubtful any of them drank the water, although it is much cleaner than what the Third World people have as their only source.
This is the second in a weeklong series in observance of National Drinking Water Week sponsored by the American Water Works Association to raise awareness of the need to conserve and preserve the nation's finite supply of freshwater.