May 4 -10 is Drinking Water Week; a week to raise awareness about the vital role water plays in our daily lives. And public awareness is greatly needed around this topic.
Reports continually show that we, as Americans, take safe tap water for granted. No one expects to be without water – not even for a few hours or to face the inconvenience that a ruptured main or repair work can cause. Yet, few are eager to pay for upgrades to water infrastructure; in tax dollars or on a utility bill.
For decades, governments at all levels have passed the buck on water infrastructure upgrades. Because of these deferred investment the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) currently grades the nation’s water infrastructure a “D+”, meaning there is a “strong risk of failure.” The ASCE puts a $1 trillion price tag on bringing water mains up to standard over the next 25 years.
Yet the story of our nation’s infrastructure is not all doom and gloom. United Water is embarking on an ambitious program to invest nearly $1 billion in our own infrastructure over the next 5 years. And we have recently launched a program for cities, SOLUTION, which will make similarly high levels of investment available to cities who chose to partner with United Water and leverage private capital to meet their needs.
After all, the cost to communities of neglected water infrastructure is not just a financial one. Poorly maintained systems will turn back the clock on decades of progress in public health standards – and raise health risks.