With all the division in our government, it is easy to forget there are some policy priorities that cut across party lines and geographical boundaries. Constituents may have different opinions on health care and tax reform, but they have a lot in common too. When it comes to the essentials, we really do have more that unites us than divides us. Earlier this year, voters were polled on what they wanted the federal government to focus on for a legislative agenda. Investment in infrastructure was the most important topic above any other issue. And an astonishing 82 percent of Americans said water infrastructure needed to be a top priority!
If you think about it, water unites all of us. Can you even begin to imagine a day without water? Everyday water usage goes beyond brushing your teeth, flushing your toilet and taking a shower. Water is essential to a functioning economy. A national water service stoppage would put nearly 2 million jobs in jeopardy and create nothing less than an economic crisis. Communities would be evacuated, businesses would close and manufacturing industries – from pharmaceuticals to automobiles – would grind to a halt.
An economic study released by the Value of Water Campaign earlier this year found that a single nationwide day without water service would put $43.5 billion of economic activity at risk. Fortunately, the American people are widely supportive of increased investment in water infrastructure. In fact, no other issue facing our public officials deserves such a broad consensus. Americans across the regional and political spectrum recognize the necessity of investing in our drinking water and stormwater.
Unfortunately, the federal government’s investment has abruptly declined. This deterioration has left localities to raise taxes, and for utilities to charge water rates that can pay for the massive infrastructure system of pumps, plants and pipes. The truth is, communities across the country have let those systems deteriorate for far too long. America can do better. There is no other option.
The tragedy of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey have dominated news coverage for weeks. Wastewater systems are being taxed with stormwater infiltration and multiple cities have been issued a boil water notice. Water systems in other communities are under threat too, and millions of Americans live in regions that completely lack water infrastructure. Crises such as these are putting pressure on water systems that are ill-equipped to manage such extreme events.
Water is a public health issue, it is an economic issue. A day without water is undoubtedly a crisis. No community can thrive without water, and every American deserves a safe, reliable, accessible water supply. Let’s demand better, and make sure no American has to ‘Imagine a Day Without Water’ again. As a partner in the Imagine a Day Without Water movement, please check out this video to learn more about how Americans can come together to save our most precious resource.