It can be easy to forget that some issues we all care about cut across political and geographic lines. Constituents may have different opinions on health care and tax reform, but when it comes to our daily lives, voters have a lot in common. We all get up in the morning and brush our teeth, use the bathroom and make coffee. We all shower, do our laundry and wash the dishes, none of which would be possible without safe and reliable water infrastructure.

If you’ve never experienced it before, it’s hard to imagine a day without water. Most people recognize that water is essential to our quality of life. In fact, the vast majority of Americans, across parties and regions, want the government to invest in our water infrastructure. The data show 88 percent of Americans support increasing federal investment to rebuild water infrastructure, and 75 percent of Americans want Congress to be proactive and invest in our nation’s water infrastructure before our systems fail.

Renewed investment in our water infrastructure isn’t only about avoiding a day without water for personal use. A day without water would cause havoc for businesses and our economy, too. According to the Value of Water Campaign’s report on “The Economic Benefits of Investing in Water Infrastructure,” a one-day disruption in water services at a national level would result in a $43.5 billion daily sales loss to businesses.

Unfortunately, there’s a disconnect between what Americans value and the actions of the federal government. Investment in water infrastructure has not been a priority for decades. The federal government’s investment has declined precipitously, leaving states, localities, water utilities and people who pay water bills to make up the difference. Meanwhile, our systems are crumbling. The U.S. government is funding $82 billion less than what is needed to maintain our water infrastructure, putting our health, safety, economy and environment at risk.

  • Central Maine Opinion
    Enter your email and each Sunday we'll send you our opinion section picks of the week.

According to the Maine Drinking Water Program, we have 371 community water suppliers that provide safe drinking water to over 673,000 Mainers. Maine received a grade of C-plus for its existing drinking water infrastructure from the American Society of Civil Engineers. ASCE also found that the cost of infrastructure improvements exceeds $59 million per year for the next 20 years. This equates to an annual $22 million shortfall in funding need. The need for upgrades far exceeds our funding sources.

Why do we have such a high financial demand?

• Our water systems in Maine are some of the oldest in the nation. Replacement and maintenance costs have risen beyond normal increases in labor and material expense.

• Treating for newly regulated emerging contaminants.

• Higher costs of chemicals, electricity, labor and benefits.

• Increased and continued threats to water supplies.

Why should it matter to you?

• Your health and the health of future generations depend on the investments and upgrades made to our systems.

What can you do?

• Last week, Mainers rallied in support of the national initiative called Imagine a Day Without Water. This is a national day of action to raise awareness about the value of water, leverage our collective power, educate our decision makers and inspire our communities to put water infrastructure on the agenda. On this day, the Maine Water Utilities Association partnered with various Maine breweries to raise awareness about the value of water.

• Learn about the many needs of your water utilities. Check out the Maine Water Utilities Association (mwua.org) for educational materials.

• Be a good water steward — educate yourself on current water issues, then share your knowledge with friends and family.

• Contact your local and national legislators to ask them to support the funding for continued drinking water infrastructure improvements.

No community can thrive without water, and every American deserves  safe, reliable, accessible water services. Let’s invest in our water systems now, so no American ever has to imagine a day, or live a day, without water again.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.