There is a water main break every two minutes in the U.S. For such a valuable resource, we are not prioritizing it in the way we should. As cliché as it may sound, water makes everything possible. Morning coffee, fighting fires, manufacturing blue jeans, growing apples, and visiting a water park all require water.
Across the country, the pipe systems that deliver and treat our water are aging and beginning to deteriorate, evident in the “D” grade in the 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. Many water pipes are at the end of their useful life, with some even dating back to the Civil War era. Each time a water main breaks, our communities suffer as roads are shut down for repairs, and water to nearby homes and businesses is shut off. With these systems buried underground, our water becomes an “out of sight, out of mind” problem until disaster strikes.
This goes beyond inconvenience, as this aging infrastructure is a drag on the economy. ASCE’s Failure to Act economic study assessed that if we fail to increase investment into our water and wastewater infrastructure by 2020, then family budgets will be squeezed by $900 as water rates rise and personal income falls. Furthermore, there will be an increased cost to businesses of $147 billion because of inadequate infrastructure.
Investing in our nation’s water infrastructure would have the reverse effect, as investment by 2020 would strengthen our economy by protecting almost 700,000 jobs, $416 billion in GDP, and $6 billion in U.S. exports. Coupled with the benefit of protecting the precious resource of water, improving our water infrastructure comes with a huge return on investment.
This week, you have the opportunity to stand up for our most essential resource during the Value of Water Coalition’s “Imagine A Day Without Water.” Join in by connecting your Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr to the Thunderclap that will amplify the message to #ValueWater through social media, check out the events happening around the country, or consider participating other ways.
We can modernize our nation’s water infrastructure, but it will take investment and leadership from all levels of government. The average U.S. family spends twice as much on their cable bill than on their water bill each year. These current rates do not reflect the true cost of supplying clean, reliable drinking water; to replace our nation’s antiquated pipes it will take significant local investment. By prioritizing water infrastructure today, we can ensure clean, safe water so that communities can thrive in the future.