Water is necessary to support all life and economic activity on the planet.
However, most people across the country take water for granted. We turn on the tap, and clean water flows out. We flush the toilet, and dirty water goes away.
Few people think twice about the infrastructure that brings water to our homes and safely returns water to our environment.
The reality is that our water supplies around the country are vulnerable to a variety of threats, and the water infrastructure in many areas is aging or failing. “Imagine a Day Without Water,” a national day of action to raise awareness about the value of water, is Wednesday.
In McHenry County, all of our drinking water comes from groundwater aquifers. Although these aquifers are wonderful sources for drinking water, they are susceptible to pollution, overuse and drought.
Whether you get your water from a residential well or a municipal water supply system, we all depend on water that is free from pollution.
Those on municipal water supply also rely on having the infrastructure to safely transport and clean the water.
Nationally, investment in water infrastructure has been significantly inadequate, leaving people and economic opportunity at risk.
“Imagine a Day Without Water” is a call for people around the country to recognize the importance that water plays in their daily lives and consider the infrastructure necessary to maintain the water supplies that we all depend on.
Even a single day without water would be a public health and safety crisis. It would mean no water to shower or flush the toilet, no water to drink or cook with, and no water to do laundry or dishes.
A single nationwide day without water service would put $43.5 billion in economic activity at risk and would make it impossible for doctors, firefighters and farmers to serve our communities.
Our water infrastructure supports every facet of our daily lives, but our water infrastructure is facing incredible challenges.
Demographic and climate pressures – such as increased storm intensity, natural disasters, drought, flooding and wildfires – threaten our infrastructure and increase the possibility of experiencing a day without water.
These challenges affect communities differently and will require local solutions, but it’s clear that reinvestment in our water systems must be a national priority.
The good news is that closing our nation’s water infrastructure gap would generate more than $220 billion in total annual economic activity, create and sustain more than a million jobs and guarantee our public health and environmental safety.
Americans widely support increased investment in our nation’s water infrastructure.
National polling shows 88 percent of Americans support increasing federal investment to rebuild water infrastructure, and 75 percent of Americans want Congress to invest in the nation’s water infrastructure before our systems fail.
No other issue facing public officials has such a broad consensus. It is more important than ever that local, state and national government prioritize investment in water and build stronger water and wastewater systems. Investing in our water is investing in a future where no American will have to live without water.
So on Wednesday, think about the role water plays in your daily routine, and imagine what life would be like if you had to spend a day without water.
• Scott Kuykendall is McHenry County’s water resource specialist. Email him at SHKuykendall@mchenrycountyil.gov, or visit www.imagineadaywithoutwater.org.