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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Nonprofit Seeks to Raise Awareness for Failing Water Systems

A U.S. Water Alliance poll found 85% of voters find ensuring a reliable supply of water extremely or very important. (Adobe Stock)

WASHINGTON — A national group is using today as a national day of action to raise awareness for U.S. water systems.

The U.S. Water Alliance is behind the Imagine a Day Without Water campaign, which seeks to raise awareness for failing water systems in the nation.

The nonprofit Dig Deep found 44 million Americans do not have safe drinking water. Virginia received a D on the Environment Virginia Research and Policy Center’s Get the Lead Out score card.

Christy Harowski, director of the Value of Water campaign, described why investing in water is so important.

“Multiple communities across the country from West Virginia to Mississippi to New Mexico have experienced major impacts on their water systems,” Harowski outlined. “As a result of flooding, of droughts, of ice storms, and even system failures and equipment failures.”

The Environmental Protection Agency said there are ways for water systems across the U.S. to prepare for the effects of climate change. Along with building flood barriers to protect infrastructure, municipalities can relocate water facilities to higher elevations and increase water storage capacity.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocated $50 billion to improve the country’s drinking water. The money has been invested in clean drinking water for communities and protected regional waters.

Harowski described what she thinks is the biggest challenge to keeping water systems well-funded.

“Recognizing it does take quite a lot; it takes people, it takes workforce, it takes systems and infrastructure to continue and deliver water safely and cleanly across the country, starting by acknowledging the great effort that’s needed,” Harowski explained. “I think that’s the biggest challenge.”

In the 2024 state budget, Virginia legislators allocated $151 million to wastewater treatment plant upgrades to reduce pollution. It will be added to the $70 million allocated for a similar purpose in 2022. Other funds would go to stormwater management and storm resilience.

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