Parliament Hill has seen its share of lineups to use the toilet, but no one ever had to worry about there being water for those toilets.

To raise awareness for the issue of access to clean water and to mark World Water Day today, students from the University of Ottawa and Carleton University joined the World’s Longest Toilet Queue event on Parliament Hill yesterday afternoon.

The event, said Sarah Oberholzer of the uOttawa chapter of Oxfam, is an attempt to mobilize people across the world to raise awareness of the fact that 2.6 billion worldwide have to wait in line to use safe water. “Access to clean water, and especially to sanitation and hygiene, is not a foreign aid priority. It’s not a sexy investment,” she said.

“(It) is something that a lot of Canadians take for granted, but right in our own backyard there are aboriginal communities under boil water advisories.”

According to the third annual Canadian Water Attitudes Study, 78 per cent of Canadians try at least reasonably hard to conserve water, but many knowingly engage in water-wasting activities like leaving the tap running when washing and rinsing dishes and hosing down their driveways.

“There is an obvious disconnect between Canadians’ attitudes towards water conservation and what they’re actually doing,” said Bob Sandford, chair of Canadian Partnership Initiative of the UN Water for Life Decade.

Despite almost half of respondents choosing fresh water as the nation’s most important natural resource, Canadians are less concerned about Canada’s long-term supply of fresh water than previous years.

The protest also implored leaders to hold discussion on access to clean water and sanitation at the upcoming G8 and G20 meeting in Toronto, said Sujay Neupane with the Carleton chapter of Oxfam.

“People die due to diseases that can be prevented, but they happen due to the lack of proper water resources and sanitation,” said Neupane.