Thursday was a big day for water infrastructure. With the passing of WRDA in the Senate, Imagine a Day Without Water could not have fallen on a more fitting day.
Yesterday hundreds of organizations across the country, including water agencies, mayors, engineers, schools and business and labor leaders, joined forces to raise public awareness about water and wastewater problems. We all know we depend on water, but this video by the U.S. Water Alliance illustrates how absolutely central water is to our everyday life.
Due to the out-of-sight nature of water infrastructure, many don’t realize the extent to which our water infrastructure needs TLC. The aging issues of underground pipes don’t receive much attention from the public until a major water crisis like that in Flint, Mich. occurs. However, many pipes and water mains are over 100 years old, and an estimated 1.7 trillion gallons of water are wasted every year due to lack of pipe replacement and broken pipes.
Many challenges plague our water systems. According to the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the investment needs for water and wastewater systems are higher than what is currently being invested. An article in the Alliance for Manufacturing explains the details of where maintenance is most required in water infrastructure. But of course each community faces its own challenges, whether it be drought, flooding, infrastructure failure, sewer overflows, poor water quality, and climate change are stressing our water and wastewater systems.
Other infrastructure that relates to water is also in need of increased investment. On Thursday, the Senate passed WRDA to help invest in navigation, flood management, and ecosystem restoration projects. The bill also provides critical investment to help communities reduce public health risks posed by lead, targets aid to rural drinking water systems, bolsters funding for water technology innovation, jumpstarts an innovative financing program for water infrastructure projects, and makes common sense reforms to the Clean Water Act (CWA) to ensure clean water investments remain affordable to lower-income ratepayers. Now it’s up to the House of Representatives to move their bill forward so that WRDA can become law.
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