Water Infrastructure in the U.S.
Our nation’s drinking water infrastructure is in desperate need of attention. This is not breaking news. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave our underground water system a C- and their economic study found that the annual drinking water and wastewater investment gap will eventually grow to $434 billion by 2029.
Water Infrastructure Insights
The Hill: In Praise of The Monthly Water Bill
Council members Kathryn Sorensen and Manny Teodoro, along with the Director of Navajo Nation Division of Natural Resources, Bitdah Becker, recently collaborated to comment on the monthly water bill. The three co-authors made the argument that community water systems form the foundation of public health, economic opportunity, and quality of life and bills should be paid accordingly by the communities that utilize the systems.
Staying Focused on the Risks That Matter
Attention and money focused on the next thing is attention and money taken away from the thing that is most impactful—the thing that best protects public health for the greatest number of people—investment in aging water infrastructure.
Providing Clean, Safe and Affordable Drinking Water for all Americans
New contaminants’ health risks must be substantiated if they are to take resources away from long-standing contaminant risks. Replacing aging infrastructure isn’t glamorous and doesn’t have the allure of addressing a contaminant with a pseudonym in air quotes, but it is critical to protecting drinking water and public health in the long term.
Water Infrastructure Resources
Our country has achieved broad successes in the delivery of safe, clean water in support of public health. Here are some resources from trusted organizations that can be used to support science-based decision making regarding safe, reliable drinking water for all.
The Water Research Foundation is the world’s leading water research and innovation organization.
The Environmental Protection Agency is an independent executive agency of the U.S. federal government tasked with environmental protection matters.
The Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA) is the professional Association serving state drinking water programs.
Water & Health Advisory Council Statement on Water Equity
The Water & Health Advisory Council agrees with the United Nations that access to safe, accessible, and affordable drinking water is a basic human right. Our nation has taken great strides to ensure safe drinking water for all, but there is more work to be done to achieve water equity.
A study conducted by the US Water Alliance found that more than two million Americans live without running water and basic indoor plumbing, and many more without sanitation. This illustrates the fact that "while the majority of Americans take high-quality drinking water and sanitation access for granted, millions of the most vulnerable people in the country— low-income people in rural areas, people of color, tribal communities, immigrants—have fallen through the cracks."
Today, many lack the resources to properly address deteriorating drinking water infrastructure and exposure to the most dangerous contaminants. Risks in drinking water are particularly high for low-income and rural communities who must battle with water contaminants that are already regulated but not properly addressed. These communities are historically underserved and under-resourced.
Water systems in larger cities tend to gain more attention and attract more resources, while water providers serving smaller cities in the U.S. tend to violate twice as many health standards than bigger cities. Smaller towns are usually subjected to lower-quality drinking water due to resource-deprived and unmaintained water providers. In some cases, they lack water infrastructure completely.
These high-risk communities need to be at the top of our nation’s priority list. When state and federal resources are allocated for drinking water projects across the country, it is vital that lawmakers consider the communities across the nation that lack adequately functioning community water systems. Providing safe, clean, reliable drinking water is essential to public health protection and allocating funds to the infrastructure needs of underserved communities is vital to achieving water equity throughout our county.
Water & Health Advisory Council
Rob Renner, Council Chair, Former Chief Executive Officer at Water Research Foundation
Chad Seidel, Ph.D., President, Corona Environmental Consulting
Joseph Cotruvo, Ph.D., BCES President, Joseph Cotruvo & Associates
Joyce Dinglasan-Panlilio, Ph.D., Division Chair/Associate Professor in Environmental Chemistry at University of Washington-Tacoma
Kathryn Sorensen, Director of Research at the Kyl Center for Water Policy, Arizona State University
Manny Teodoro, Associate Professor of Public Affairs at University of Wisconsin-Madison
Janet Anderson, Principal Toxicologist at GSI Environmental Inc.