SDG 6: Clean Water & Sanitation

Ensure the availability & sustainable management of water & sanitation for all is the purpose of Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6). This goal strives to ensure equitable access, improve quality, & increase efficiency of water & sanitation systems.

Actions, stories, & resources related to SDG 6: Clean Water & Sanitation as told in the 2021 Auburn University and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals report, & then expanded on below, illustrate Auburn’s impact. For an overview highlighting our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), please visit

SDG 6: Clean Water & Sanitation

Half the world’s population experiences water scarcity and shortages for at least one month out of the year. Water is essential for sanitation and hygiene, not only for staying hydrated. Lack of access to safely managed drinking and bathing water as well as pollution in waterways leads to the spread of diseases that cause the death of 800 children every day.

Auburn University is moderately engaged with Goal 6 across teaching, research, outreach, and student involvement. Goal 6 is best represented in Auburn University’s teaching and research activities, with at least 13 courses offered and 14 faculty engaged in research from 2016 to 2018 that related to issues of clean water and sanitation. Proper water management enables better food production management, energy production management, decent work, and economic growth, ecosystem preservation, biodiversity maintenance, and climate change action; all of which are issues that concern Auburn University because of Auburn University’s global perspective and dedication to selfless service.

View the 2021 report titled Auburn University and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for an overview of Auburn’s contributions to all the SDGs.

Actions at Auburn

The Watershed Science and Management minor, administered by the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment, involves managing the availability, quantity, and quality of water. Many metropolitan areas and smaller cities rely on forested watersheds to yield high-quality drinking water supplies for their population. This minor supports well-trained and dedicated professionals that are knowledgeable in hydrology, climate, and water sciences. These professionals are needed to sustain our water supplies and ensure that this commodity is available to the United States and the world’s growing populations. The minor requires students to take courses that emphasize various aspects of watershed and landscape management and their effects on sustainable water quality and supply.

student doing research in creek SDG Photo courtesy of Dr. Chris Anderson
students for water with Aubie SDG Photo courtesy of Lindsey Dull

Students for Clean Water exists to raise awareness and funds to eradicate the global water crisis through education, awareness, and fundraising. The funds raised by Students for Clean Water benefit Neverthirst, an international ministry bringing clean water to those who need it, in addition to Auburn-area and nationwide charities related to clean water. Students for Clean Water’s fundraising events include the Carry the Jerry 5k, the H2Bowl bowling tournament, benefit nights and concerts, and annual Water Week. Each of these events is open to all Auburn students and surrounding community members.

Dr. Kelly D. Alley, an anthropologist in the College of Liberal Arts, explores successful wastewater reuse in India in her article “Parameters of Successful Wastewater Reuse in Urban India.” Water is essential for agriculture, industry, and human consumption in urban India. However, over the next half century, water availability during the dry season will continue to decline. Alley’s research examines the key parameters that enable successful wastewater reuse through four case studies. Alley’s research aims to increase the availability of water during the dry season in order to preserve northern India’s people, agriculture, and industry.

waste water structure in india SDg Photo courtesy of Dr. Kelly Alley

People & Stories

Water Quality: Lessons from a Crayfish

| Guest Posts, SDG14, SDG6 | No Comments
By Molly Kilpatrick. What do crayfish and global water quality have to do with each other? As it turns out, a lot. In 2015, 193 countries adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This agenda provides a framework for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, from now and…

Campus Changemaker: Students for Clean Water

| SDG6, Sustainability in Action | No Comments
By Grace Reilein. Clean water and access to proper sanitation is a human right that is often taken for granted in much of the United States. It is easy for young people to forget that access to clean water is not common in other parts of the world. University students…

Clean Water, Sanitation, & Human Rights: What Do We Owe Our Neighbors?

| Director's Corner, SDG1, SDG11, SDG3, SDG6 | No Comments
Directors Corner, February 2022 “Our collective failure to invest in adequate sanitation, clean drinking water, and effective response to pollution is taking life from the most vulnerable and marginalized among us.”  Bryan Stevenson What do you think?  Is access to clean water and sanitation a basic human right?  One would…

Community Garden Water Sustainability Initiative

| Guest Posts, SDG11, SDG2, SDG6 | No Comments
By Marley Halter. Early this year, the Community Garden at Auburn University (CGAU) Advisory Committee developed a 2021 Water Savings Program. As part of the program, irrigation timers were phased out of use, and garden staff planned to raise awareness of the problem of water waste, and to hold classes…

Campus Changemaker: Dr. Sweta Byahut

| SDG1, SDG11, SDG6, SDG7, SDG9, Sustainability in Action | No Comments
By Chloe McMahon. Dr. Sweta Byahut serves as an Associate Professor and current Director at Auburn’s Community Planning graduate program. She has been teaching at Auburn for nearly nine years. A seasoned urban planner, her passion for sustainable urban development is evident both in her teaching and research. Since she…

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