September 15, 2016, the Mass. Water Resources Research Center will join elected officials, drinking water and wastewater providers, community leaders, business and labor groups, policy experts, advocacy organizations and infrastructure experts participating in Imagine a Day Without Water, an effort to educate the public about the water infrastructure crisis currently facing the United States. Organized by the Value of Water Coalition, hundreds of organizations across the country will partake in events today aimed at raising awareness about the crucial need for investment to ensure that no community in America is left without water and the infrastructure that brings it to and from homes and businesses.
“We're thrilled that WRRC is joining Imagine a Day Without Water. This national day of action is educating public officials and engaging citizens about the essential role water plays in our lives, and the threat that aging and underfunded water infrastructure poses to our communities and economy” said Radhika Fox, CEO of the US Water Alliance and Director of the Value of Water Coalition. “Most people can take for granted that when the turn on the tap, or flush the toilet, water systems functions exactly as they are supposed to. But the systems that provide critical water and wastewater services are aging, and we need to take action before it gets worse. Because a day without water is nothing short of a crisis.”
The problems our drinking water and wastewater systems face are multi-faceted. Each community faces distinct challenges and will require locally-crafted solutions to solve their biggest water problems. Drought, flooding, infrastructure failure, sewer overflows, poor water quality, and climate change are stressing our water and wastewater systems. In some communities, families and businesses have experienced the impossible struggle of a day without water. Imagine A Day Without Water tells their stories, as well as the stories of innovative solutions to our nation’s water challenges, so that no one ever has to experience another day without water.
Frequently, public attention on infrastructure typically focuses on the things we see every day, like roads, bridges, and tunnels. Yet the hidden infrastructure that reliably brings clean water to homes and businesses, and takes it away after it has been used, is actually far more vast than our highway system – National Geographic estimates that the country’s 1.2 million miles of water mains translates to 26 miles of pipes for every mile of interstate highway. And, while the interstate system was built in the late 20th century, many of the water systems that country’s biggest cities rely on were built in the 1800s or early 1900s.
Now those systems are showing the effects of a century, or more, of running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. A water main breaks somewhere in America every two minutes. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave a grade of “D” to our drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. Without further investments, these systems will experience more frequent failures and disruptions as they try to keep up with the needs of both the modern metropolises and rural and agricultural areas they serve.