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The Cost of Clean Water

Woman making teaIt seems like every day there is a new report of water problems somewhere in the country. Lead in drinking water, runoff from storms and road maintenance in well water, and contaminants such as pharmaceuticals and household products leaching into water supplies seem to be more and more common. With the myriad of water problems that the nation is experiencing at the moment, more and more states and municipalities are confronting the issue of how to deal with old pipes and contaminated water supplies. As these issues become more urgent, one question to bear in mind is where the funding for massive infrastructure overhauls will come from.

What issues threaten local water supplies?

There are many issues that threaten local water supplies. Some of these are common, well-known problems, such as the threat of lead leaching into water through old pipe systems, creating an unseen yet potentially deadly threat to water safety. However, there are other factors that can affect water supplies, such as PFAS and PPCPs. PFAS stands for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which are chemicals that are commonly found in a number of household items, such as non-stick pans. PPCPs are pharmaceuticals and personal care products, which can find their way into drinking water through improper disposal.

Who will bear the cost of proposed changes to water infrastructure?

As governments consider massive and costly improvements to water infrastructure, citizens may be wondering: who is going to foot the bill? This is indeed a pertinent question, as governments and municipalities increasingly look to their citizens to assist with the burden of repairing or replacing inadequate water infrastructure through increased taxes. In Jackson, MI, the city is currently dealing with a water crisis that they are trying to navigate. The state has directed the city to replace as many as 11,000 lead water lines, which feed water into local area homes. While projects like this one are necessary to protect citizens from harmful contaminants like lead, they can also be expensive, with the majority of the cost being shouldered by residents.

What is the future of water infrastructure?

The issue of clean water isn’t going away, and the question of how best to deal with water problems doesn’t have a simple – or even consistent – answer across the board. As cities and states work to devise solutions for water problems and how best to address the cost that comes with them, for now it seems that citizens can expect to pick up the bill for many of the improvements. This can be a tough pill to swallow since many municipalities will expect residents to contribute more than they are already doing to fix city-wide issues. For towns like Jackson, MI, this could affect the residents that live on fixed incomes or are at a lower-income level.

Citizens should try to stay as up to date as possible on water news and developments. While there is no way to anticipate major water projects, it’s always a good idea to have a yearly water test done to determine what contaminants or pollutants are lurking in local water supplies.