The UT student chapter of the American Water Resources Association (AWRA) will host the "Water Love Fest" on Friday at the Relix Variety Theatre.

Entirely organized by UT students and members of AWRA, this event manifests the growing concern for the indispensable life force of humanity. Water covers roughly 70 percent of Earth's surface, making it the only "blue planet" in the solar system. Despite this abundance, freshwater comprises a minuscule 2 to 3 percent of the planet's total water supply.

In today's world, it is easy to overlook warnings of an impending water crisis when the twist of a knob is all it takes to fill a glass. Other areas of the world lack this lavish luxury. Currently, an estimated 783 million people around the globe are without access to clean water.

Still, recognition of water issues on our continent has slowly percolated into mainstream awareness. In the U.S., rising population, industry and urban development have placed immense pressures on the freshwater supply. A recent study released by the Environmental Protection Agency asserts that roughly 55 percent of America's freshwater rivers and streams are in "poor" biological condition. Such estimates have serious implications for both human well-being and biological diversity.

In the American West, decreased annual rainfall coupled with increased periods of drought has created significant competition and use issues for remaining freshwater resources. The documentary "Watershed" will be screened at Friday's event, providing an in-depth look at some of these issues. Narrated and produced by Robert Redford, the film deals with the troubles facing the Colorado River, which is now considered America's most imperiled river.

Anna Alsobrook, a graduate student in geography and member of AWRA, commented on the significance of water as an invaluable resource.

"Water runs this Earth, yet we undoubtedly take it for granted every single day," said Alsobrook. "That's a problem. AWRA is on campus to promote the importance of water conservation and other issues facing this natural resource."

The "Water Love Fest" will consist of several networking opportunities, including a rain barrel workshop, the "Watershed" documentary screening, raffle giveaways and live music from Grassroots Gringo, Crispy Watkins and DJ Entourage.

Additionally, the event will serve as a fundraiser to the AWRA and local groups including Water Quality Forum and Legacy Parks. A $5 donation is suggested.

Julie McKnight, student president of AWRA-UTK, reflected on the event's significance.

"This event truly embodies the group's purpose, which is to bring together students, professionals and the community to promote awareness and conservation of our natural water resources," McKnight said. "Although donations are being collected, this is not 'just another fundraising event.' We want to build relationships, provide professional opportunities for student members and engage the community in the discussion of protecting and managing our natural water resources. Already, our (student AWRA) members have shown their commitment by adopting a portion of Second Creek in downtown Knoxville."

McKnight hopes the event will gain attention for the organization's efforts.

"The 'Water Love Fest' will serve as a platform for the AWRA-UTK student chapter to support and promote water conservation practices, stewardship of local water resources, student research, and job opportunities and community education and outreach," McKnight said. "We look forward to increasing our activity and contribution from the exposure we receive from the 'Water Love Fest.'"

Friday's events will begin at 5 p.m. Those interested should RSVP to the event's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/125289397664271/.

Questions about the event should be directed to awrasutk@utk.edu

For information regarding transportation and the Relix Theatre, visit http://www.relixvariety.com/

View the "Watershed" trailer and details regarding its production at http://watershedmovie.com/