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July 8th, 2010

Renew America’s Water

Since much of the country is experiencing a record-breaking temperatures this summer, it seems like yet another good opportunity to talk about water. While you’re sweating profusely and in desperate need of hydration, think for a moment about the water you’re drinking and how you get it. Even though we have one of the most accessible and safe water systems in the world here in the U.S., it’s falling into a state of disrepair. Many of the individual systems that carry our water are outdated. Old drinking water pipes lose 1.7 trillion gallons of treated water a year, while sewage overflows and storm runoff continue to be a problem. Remember the water main break in Boston recently? We need to turn our attention to how we can prepare our water infrastructure for the future. We need to Renew America’s Water.

Even though we have one of the most accessible and safe water systems in the world here in the U.S., it’s falling into a state of disrepair. The Renew America’s Water campaign proposes that we reinvest in our public water systems now.

You don’t have to search for long to see evidence of our nation’s aging water infrastructure. Many communities are struggling to solve their water woes, but federal funding for our systems has hit an all-time low, creating a $29 billion gap that prevents municipalities from fixing their infrastructure. Our systems, which are in need of repair, mistakenly cause some people to question their ability to rely on tap water.

But the alternative – relying on bottled water – is far worse than investing in public water infrastructure now. Bottled water is bad for our wallets, our health, and our environment. You might as well start thinking of bottled water as oil or gas because it costs about as much, and it has a similar carbon footprint if you consider the energy used to make the plastic bottle, ship it around the country and dispose of it.

Tap water is thousands of times cheaper than bottled water, is easier on the environment and has standards that are much more stringent than those for bottled water.
If bottled water is oil, tap water is our green alternative – one that is already available to us. So, what do we need to do around here to get a nice, cold glass of water?

The Renew America’s Water campaign proposes that we reinvest in our public water systems now. This pledge requires us to establish a consistent and secured source of federal funding — free from political earmarking — to upgrade water systems and keep them in the public domain.  If we close the gap in federal funding, we could create up to 750,000 jobs needed to repair water infrastructure and build environmentally friendly water and sewer systems.

The U.S. needs to introduce legislation to secure solid funding, create new jobs and ensure that our drinking water and waste water systems adequately protect public health and the environment.

Since the bottled water industry has already been such a major abuser of our public systems, it’s time they paid their fair share. A one-cent per ounce tax on manufacturers of bottled water could fund improvements to local water systems. If you think that people won’t buy into the idea, consider this: sixty-three percent of voters surveyed favored the tax.

If we want to continue to have access to reliable water systems in our cities, towns and hamlets, we need to act now to prepare for the future. Introducing legislation to secure solid funding, create new jobs and ensure that our drinking water and waste water systems adequately protect public health and the environment are all critical parts of this process. We’ve relied on our current system for decades, without ever thinking about what life would be like without it. It’s time to consider the future and renew America’s Water.

What can you do?

Read our fact sheet so you understand the issue.

Ask your Congressman to support legislation to Renew America’s Water.

Stay informed about the source and quality of our tap water.

Check out our new guide to help you find what’s important in your local water report.

- Rich Bindell

2 Comments on Renew America’s Water

  1. Bart Seitz says:

    Why is your organization asking for federal funding for water infrastructure projects? These projects serve local communities, and the costs for improving local water treatment facilities should be borne at the local level – through municipal bonds or local taxes. Why should federal tax dollars collected from, for example, citizens in NYC be used to pay for water treatment facilities in Minnesota?

    • Heidi Gogins says:

      Replying to Bart: Government investment in crucial infrastructure that benefits every citizen is not the problem. The overriding problem in America is the culture of selfishness and shortsightedness that leads people to ask questions like this.
      No human being can, or should have to, live without access to clean, safe drinking water. For city and town residents, this means a publicly owned water system and the funding necessary to build and maintain it. I’d sure rather have my taxes pay for that, or for health care, or for mass transit, than for endless wars overseas that only serve to enrich Halliburton and other private contractors for the Pentagon.

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