It's easy to take water for granted. Turn on the tap, and you'll receive clean, life-giving water (with some very notable exceptions). But for a myriad of reasons, ranging from our changing climate to aging infrastructure to growing demands for water, all aspects of the water cycle -- how it is collected, cleaned, distributed (and repeat) -- are overdue for a technological makeover.
Water may become unaffordable for a third of American households within the next five years. Researchers at Michigan State University predict this figure will rise by $49 over the next five years. And if it does, water may become unaffordable for one-third of American households, according to a study, published recently in PLOS ONE, that maps the U.S. areas due to be hit hardest based on local incomes. "The project deals with looking at the economic impacts of rising water prices on both households and regional economies, said Elizabeth Mack, an MSU geographer who led the work. When she first pitched the research idea to her colleagues, some scoffed.
This March 22, World Water Day, we focus attention on global issues of water access. The statistics are not comforting. The poorest ninth of us - about 800 million people - do not have reliable access to clean drinking water. This is the starkest form of "water insecurity" - the inadequate access of individuals and groups to fresh water. The explosive growth rates and technological advancements of the past several decades notwithstanding, we have been unable to provide a global minority - numbering more than the entire population of Europe - the most basic of physiological requirements.
America's crumbling water infrastructure and insufficient implementation of environmental laws have left millions of people drinking unsafe water, according to a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council. According to Threats on Tap, there were more than 12,000 health-based violations in 5,000 water systems that served over 27 million people across the United States. The Safe Drinking Water Act, enacted by Congress in 1974, is supposed to keep drinking water clean by regulating 100 different contaminants, such as lead and arsenic. But lack of enforcement from the Environmental Protection Agency and state-level agencies, coupled with the deterioration of water infrastructure, has resulted in the standards of the SDWA not being met. "Flint was a wake-up call for Americans," said Erik Olson, who directs the NRDC's health program, "but it's not the only place in the United States with tap water problems."