Last week, the Value of Water Coalition released the results of a new national poll on public attitudes and concerns about water, which found that Americans are deeply concerned with the state of water infrastructure that we all rely on. For those of us in the industry, it’s encouraging to see the general public becoming more familiar with the repair needs of the nation’s aging water infrastructure system which cover more than one million miles of water mains throughout the country.
Those of us that know what lies below the surface are constantly on the job to improve systems, research and develop better technologies, and be as proactive as possible in harsh situations and periods such as this recent winter of intense storms and fluctuating temperatures. And while respondents were initially evenly split regarding their willingness to personally spend more on water bills for increased investment in water systems, once poll respondents received additional information about water issues, 60 percent were in favor of paying more to invest in water infrastructure.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, failure to make necessary investments in infrastructure may lead to $206 billion in increased costs for businesses and households between 2011 and 2020. As Radhika Fox, director of the Value of Water Coalition and CEO of the US Water Alliance noted regarding the poll, “this is a critical time and important opportunity to have a conversation across the country about the importance of investing in our water systems. Being able to drink water straight from the tap and knowing that wastewater is safely and responsibly treated are top concerns for Americans. As a nation, we must prioritize investment in our water systems—to maintain high-quality water service today and for future generations.”
The issues that resonated with Americans through this poll were clear: we’re all dependent on water infrastructure, and need additional investment in it. Because the nation’s network of water pipes is underground and out of sight, it is easy to take clean, dependable water for granted. Careful planning, public advocacy, and partnerships are necessary to address our nation’s infrastructure challenges and ensure clean and sufficient water in the future.