Can you imagine a day without water? No water to drink, or even to make coffee with. No water to shower, flush the toilet, or do laundry. Hospitals would close. Firefighters couldn’t put out fires, and farmers couldn’t water their crops.
A single nationwide day without water service would put $43.5 billion in economic activity at risk
Most of us take water for granted. We turn on the tap, and clean water flows out. We 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.
And today, Wednesday, Oct. 10, is the perfect time to do so, because it’s this year’s annual Imagine a Day Without Water event. It’s set aside as a national day of action to raise awareness about the value of water.
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.
Unfortunately, there’s a disconnect between what Americans value and the actions of the federal, state and local governments. Investment in water infrastructure has not been a priority for decades. The federal government’s investment has declined precipitously, leaving states, localities, water utilities, and people who pay water bills to make up the difference. Meanwhile, our water systems are crumbling. The U.S. government is currently funding $82 billion less than what is needed to maintain our water infrastructure, putting our health, safety, economy and environment at risk.
In Allentown, where LCA operates the water and sewer systems under the terms of a 50-year lease agreement designed by the city, we need to repair and replace the city’s aging treatment systems, equipment and infrastructure — work that is costly and long overdue. LCA expects the Allentown systems will need $1.3 billion worth of system improvements over the next 45 years. And we’re just one example of a problem that water authorities are grappling with all over the country. Larger municipalities face an even costlier future.
Yet we have the opportunity to leverage our collective power, educate our decision makers, and inspire our lawmakers to put water infrastructure on the agenda. There is a groundswell of communities and partners coming together to promote safe and reliable water systems on Imagine a Day Without Water. Together, on this fourth annual day of action, we can make a difference.
That’s why we are joining with hundreds of groups across the country for Imagine a Day Without Water. No community can thrive without water, and every American deserves safe, reliable, accessible water services. Let’s invest in our water systems now, so no American ever has to imagine a day — or live a day — without water again.