If you have anxiety about climate change and the environment, you understand the importance of conserving the planet’s stash of clean H2O. Although this precious liquid goes through an endless cycle, human activity influences how much is available for consumption — and hydration is essential to life. Here’s how states are stepping up to combat the drinking water crisis.
An Overview of the Drinking Water Crisis
If you live in a nation with developed plumbing infrastructure, you might take it for granted that when you get thirsty, you head to the faucet. However, not everyone has the same access to resources. Globally, nearly 1 million people die each year from a lack of clean water and hygiene that proper supplies and sanitation could address.
But the problem is not confined to distant, overseas nations. Many Americans remember sad pictures of school children carrying heavy cases of water home in Flint, MI. Even in wealthy areas, maintaining established systems takes regular work to ensure the stuff flowing from your tap stays safe.
The drinking water crisis echoes other environmental concerns, like air pollution. It’s not that Earth lacks a natural system for converting carbon to oxygen (trees) or recycling water (the water cycle). It’s abusing these resources through overuse and mindless commercial activity that taxes the planet’s ability to bounce back. It’s like asking someone with a broken leg to run a marathon — Mother Earth needs recovery time, just like people.
State-Level Efforts to Increase Drinking Water Quality
However, information can trigger immense anxiety when you only see one part of the picture. As vital as it is to understand the drinking water crisis, it’s equally important to recognize efforts to address it and support them through your voice and vote.
1. State Agencies and Regulations Around Drinking Water Quality
Every state has an agency and established standards to safeguard the drinking water supply. These teams oversee area-wide water use, balancing the needs of industry, agriculture and private households. Supporting politicians with a strong environmental protection record leads to them appointing those who share your concerns to serve.
2. Investments in Infrastructure Upgrades
You know that drinking water has important health benefits, but it’s harder to stay hydrated when the stuff coming from your taps isn’t safe. Infrastructure upgrades replace corroded pipes and provide individual consumers with a reliable supply.
3. Improved Water Treatment Technologies
Technology can address climate change, including the drinking water crisis. Improved rainwater collection and greywater purification systems ensure a reliable supply of water for all uses, including agriculture and industry.
4. Community, Collaboration and Partnerships
Addressing the water crisis means uniting various sectors. For example, the agricultural industry can assist by following the principles of limited soil disturbance and keeping living roots in the soil to facilitate the water cycle. Construction contractors can espouse leadership in energy and environmental design (LEED) principles for water conservation, using low-flow devices and integrating improved technologies into their blueprints and builds.
Case Studies of State Strategies
Now that you understand how states are combatting the drinking water crisis in theory, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty. Let’s examine three case studies of states impacted more than others by the problem and the actions they are taking to solve it.
California’s huge population makes it a microcosm of climate change impacts in many ways, including the drinking water crisis. Despite being the world’s fifth-largest economy, nearly 1 million people lack access to safe, affordable drinking water, particularly in low-income communities. The state has also endured decades of drought.
Moisture in the air increases as temperatures rise, causing more severe storms when they occur. However, California plans to take advantage of this shift by recharging groundwater from these deluges. The process entails constructing wells that feed into underground aquifers for storage.
The state is also taking stronger environmental measures across the board and encourages business leaders to do so. For example, many restaurants, from local favorites to large national chains, have implemented sustainable practices like changing their packaging and bringing water only upon request.
The Flint, MI, drinking water crisis was severe enough to garner national attention nine years ago. However, it hasn’t made any recent headlines — what’s happening?
A lot. The city has replaced all but 3% of the old lead service lines that led to the crisis as part of a 2017 settlement. They’ve spent millions of dollars on new copper pipes, a new chemical feed building and reservoir renovations. The remaining work entails private property owners who have yet to give consent for the necessary upgrades.
The toughest thing about the Flint, MI, drinking water crisis today may be changing public attitudes. Many residents still express hesitation — which is one example of why staying on top of what officials are doing to address shared problems is so vital. Business leaders again assist in re-education efforts, which can be as simple as using the city’s water supply to make everything from cider to iced tea.
States Stepping up to the Drinking Water Crisis
It’s easy to get carried away by frightening headlines that tell about urgent problems. However, it’s equally vital to investigate further and learn what people are doing to address these issues. Doing so can calm your fears and provide insight into the best ways you can help, as taking action is a fabulous way to alleviate anxiety.
Consider these examples of states stepping up to address the drinking water crisis. What are the most urgent environmental issues where you live, and how can you do your part?