American’s are fortunate to live in a country where they do not face external challenges when they need water, it is because of this fortuitous resource that the value and internal threats concerning our water have been overlooked. One of those threats are the aging infrastructure systems used to transport water; these pipes have broken down inevitably over the course of time, causing waste, water main breaks, and an increase in toxic levels of lead, affecting the health of humans and the environment.
Seventy percent of the Earth is water, the average American uses 176 gallons of water per day, and 40% of water is used to produce food and beverages. Water has a relationship with the environment and the economy, valuing it means valuing the future, and understanding the role it plays in society is vital to recognizing the imperative challenges the water companies and industries face today. It should be of the utmost concern to the American population, near 320 million people who are provided water from more than 700,000 miles of pipes throughout the U.S., that there is a dire need to invest and repair the infrastructures of our water systems.
The adverse Flint, Mich., drinking water contamination crisis has shed light to this now recognized national issue by demonstrating what could potentially happen due to aging pipes. After Flint changed its water source, the drinking water had a series of problems with lead contamination, children exposed could experience future health problems and the situation was declared a federal emergency. The crisis was at first mishandled, resulting in lawsuits against government officials and some investigations, but when you look past the external handling and focus on the root of the problem, the aging infrastructures, bigger concerns, challenges, opportunities and ways to prevent crisis like this are presented.
According to the Value of Water Coalition, 1.7 trillion gallons of water have gone to waste due to aging, leaky and faulty pipes, there are water main breaks occurring every two minutes, and the U.S. received the letter grade “D” concerning drinking water and waste water infrastructure from the American Society of Civil Engineers. The obstacle most concerning in repairing and improving these infrastructures are the costs, an estimated total is near $4.8 trillion. However, when challenges are presented, so are opportunities.
Investing in the nation’s water and waste water infrastructure would not just benefit the health and well-being of the consumer, but it could create jobs, improve the economy, and construct a better nation with a safe source of water. The Value of Water Coalition also predicts that $524 billion could be contributed to the economy from over 30 large water utilities, and near 290,000 jobs that will also be supported.
American’s have the opportunity to contribute to the repairs of the water infrastructures, from working directly with the companies to paying that monthly bill; the recent rise of water rates should not be something to scowl over, those investments are fundamental in establishing a safe, reliable system that takes care of our water, the environment, and the economy.
Morrow, M. (2016, January 28). America’s Water Infrastructure Is in Need of a Major Overhaul. Retrieved March 21, 2016, from http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2016/01/28/america-s-water-infrastructure-is-in-need-major-overhaul.html
US Water Alliance | US Water Alliance. (n.d.). Retrieved March 21, 2016, from http://uswateralliance.org/
By John Kerry, for National Geographic PUBLISHED Tue Jun 10 06:07:00 EDT 2014. (2014, June 10). Opinion: Saving Our Future By Saving Our Oceans. Retrieved March 21, 2016, from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/06/140609-john-kerry-opinion-ocean-conference-science/