Water: our world’s most precious resource. We need water for food production, manufacturing, livestock, tourism, electric power, energy resource extraction, mining, forestry, and recreation. Water is critical to a thriving economy, and is essential either directly or indirectly in every aspect of our lives. So why aren’t we doing more to protect it?
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is hoping to change that. The Importance of Water to the US Economy, an EPA report addressing the intrinsic value of water, was issued earlier this month. The 37-page report discusses the vital role water plays in all aspects of our economy, and why we urgently need to address the sustainable management of our nation’s water resources. This report also supplies additional evidence for the expanded Clean Water Act jurisdiction expected to pass in 2014, which you can read about here.
The reality is that sustainable management will not only necessitate increased EPA jurisdiction to ensure protection of our nation’s finite water resources, but will also come with a pricetag. Aging infrastructure – some built around the time of the Civil War – continues to fail at an alarming rate, and EPA’s Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment: Fifth Report to Congress, issued in June of this year, estimated that $384 billion would be necessary simply for the maintenance of our nation\’s tap water systems through 2030.
Yet people continue to balk at rising water and sewer prices, even in the wake of such compelling evidence. General Manager of the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water) George S. Hawkins, whose job includes convincing residents of the necessity for rate increases, explains in a way that allows no room for argument: “People pay more for their cellphones and cable television than for water. You can go a day without a phone or TV. You can’t go a day without water.”
Indeed, Mr. Hawkins.