The World Health Organization reports that 2.6 billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation. The United Nations says more than 1 billion people are living with a shortage of fresh water. And the World Plumbing Council says half the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from waterborne diseases.

“Clean water is not a luxury; safe, clear drinking water and sanitation is possible in any nation, big or small, when simple, sound plumbing practices are adopted,” notes the World Plumbing Council on its website. “Availability of fresh water is acknowledged as one of the strongest determinants of economic prosperity and hence political stability. Lack of water is, quite simply, keeping billions of human beings poor, sick, uneducated and ill-governed.”

The WPC established March 11 as World Plumbing Day to illustrate the critical role the plumbing industry has in the health and safety of communities across the globe. It encourages anyone in the industry to promote that role in local communities, as well as state and national legislatures.

One idea is for you to provide an article to your local newspaper or send out a press release explaining why sanitation and clean drinking water are globally important, not just in your local community. If someone in your company is handy with a video camera, what about posting something on YouTube, Facebook and other social media? Some examples of hashtags already in use to add to your posts are #WorldPlumbingDay, #hugaplumber, #water and #sanitation. Make up your own to add to the social conversation.

Or you can sponsor a clean water day at one of your community schools. Not only will such activities raise awareness of these important issues, they will turn the focus on you and your company as an industry expert.

One group focused on clean drinking water is Thirst Relief International, which provides communities in eight developing countries clean drinking water through local partners to install bio-sand filters as well as drill and repair wells. The group’s W.A.S.H. project provides schools with latrines, a bore-hole well, a water storage tank, filters and water taps that act as drinking fountains.

Another date to watch for is World Water Day, March 22, which is part of the International Decade of Action Water for Life, 2005-2015. The theme this year is “Water and Energy,” #waterenergy2014. A United Nations water conference was held in mid-January to discuss the topic; one of the conclusions from the three day conference is that another 2 billion people will need access to water and energy by 2050.

“Water demand could exceed 44% of the available annual resources by 2050 while energy demand could experience a 50% increase by the same date,” the group states. “As a consequence, the world faces a genuine challenge: Without energy there is no water and without water, there is no energy.”

And then we have World Toilet Day, Nov. 19, sponsored by the World Toilet Organization. Its mission is to draw attention to the global sanitation problem and advocate for safe toilets.

From the group’s website: “Can you imagine not having a toilet? Can you imagine not having privacy when you need to relieve yourself? Although unthinkable for those living in wealthy parts of the world, this is a harsh reality for many — in fact, one in three people on this globe does not have access to a toilet! Have you ever thought about the true meaning of dignity?”

I’m sure I’ve missed other organizations that focus on sanitation and clean water in developing countries. But don’t forget these issues may be present in your own community. Maybe a homeowner, trying to save some money, hired an unlicensed plumber to install a new toilet or repair some water piping. And because that contractor didn’t have the training and expertise you have, the homeowner ended up with a health and safety issue.

It’s up to you and everyone in the plumbing industry to make sure people are aware of how important plumbers are “to the health and safety of the nation.” These global water days can help you start a local campaign around clean water and sanitation.