Most Americans take water for granted. They turn on the tap, and clean water flows out. They flush the toilet, and dirty water goes away. Most Americans hardly think twice about the infrastructure that brings water to their homes, and safely returns water to our environment – but they should. The reality is, our water infrastructure is aging and failing. While most Americans cannot imagine a day without water, there are many communities that have lived, and are living, without water because they don’t have access to safe and reliable water systems. As citizens go to the polls this fall to vote in the midterm elections, the next wave of lawmakers from state legislatures to the nation’s capital need to make water a priority so no American has to live or imagine a day without water again.
A Day Without Water = Crisis
A day without water is a public health and safety crisis. It means no water to shower or flush the toilet, and no water to drink or cook with, no water to do laundry or dishes. A single nationwide day without water service would put $43.5 billion in economic activity at risk and would make it impossible for doctors, firefighters, and farmers to serve our communities. Our water infrastructure supports every facet of our daily lives, but our water infrastructure is facing incredible challenges. Demographic and climate pressures, such as increased natural disasters, drought, flooding, and wildfire, threaten our infrastructure and increase the possibility of a day without water. These challenges look different to different communities and will require local solutions, but it’s clear that reinvestment in our water systems must be a national priority.
Reinvestment in Water Infrastructure = Opportunity
The good news is that closing our nation’s water infrastructure gap would generate over $220 billion in total annual economic activity, create and sustain over a million jobs, and guarantee our public health and environmental safety. Americans widely support increased investment in our nation’s water infrastructure. National polling shows 88 percent of Americans support increasing federal investment to rebuild water infrastructure, and 75 percent of Americans want Congress to invest in our nation’s water infrastructure before our systems fail. No other issue facing our public officials has such a broad consensus, and 2018's elections represent an opportunity to make sure water is top of mind for candidates and to vote for leaders who share our values.
Strong Leadership on Water = Secure Future
This fall, Americans will vote for all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, 35 Senate seats, 36 gubernatorial races, and countless state legislature and local races. Candidates should put water infrastructure on their agendas and share their plans for closing the water infrastructure gap and protecting our health, safety, environment, and economy. Public officials at the local, state, and national level must prioritize investment in water and build stronger water and wastewater systems. Investing in our water is investing in a future where no American will have to imagine a day without water.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “When the well is dry, we will know the worth of water.”