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‘Value of Water’ Index Reveals Momentum to Address US Water Infrastructure Issues

We find ourselves in a critical moment in time to shine a spotlight on our water infrastructure challenges and the collective actions we must take to protect our future access to clean potable water. The recent devastation from Hurricane Sandy has shown that US infrastructure issues need to be addressed in a fundamental and decisive way. In the wake of the recent elections, with a second administration for the president and a new Congress on the way, there may be no better time than now to move beyond discussion to action.

The American public seems to be receptive to the idea. As part of Xylem’s ongoing commitment to addressing the world’s most challenging water issues, we conducted the 2012 Value of Water Index, a nationwide poll detailing what US voters think should be done about the country’s water infrastructure and who should pay for it.

The Index revealed that more than three-quarters of Americans are concerned about the state of the nation’s water infrastructure system, and a significant majority of Americans (88 percent) believe US water infrastructure needs reform. Most say they would be willing to pay more each month to ensure that today’s problems are fixed so that clean water keeps flowing.

Yet despite the fact that Americans are concerned about the state of the country’s water infrastructure, there seems to be an important disconnect. Americans are largely unaware of their own “water footprint” or the extent to which water infrastructure problems would impact them personally. More than half of Americans believe they use 50 gallons of water or less daily when the true total is actually closer to twice that amount. Additionally, only 29 percent of Americans believe that water infrastructure problems would affect them “a great deal.”

While these findings indicate a growing public awareness of the urgent need to solve water, they also demonstrate that much more work needs to be done to educate Americans about the economics of water and the fundamental role that water and water infrastructure play in our lives and in the health of the economy. The good news is that people understand that fixing our nation’s water infrastructure problems is a shared responsibility between business, government and citizens.

In order to encourage action, it is time for businesses with expertise in the water sector to join forces and raise public awareness of our water infrastructure challenges and needs. If we can focus attention on the vital issues around water, we can build consensus and make this a national priority.

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One thought on “‘Value of Water’ Index Reveals Momentum to Address US Water Infrastructure Issues

  1. Gretchen, I agree the US water infrastructure needs to be examined and acted upon. You mentioned 90% of Americans hold all levels of government accountable for fixing and maintaining the water infrastructure, I submit to you the CAA( clean air act) the CWA( Clean Water Act) inacted in 1990. These acts adopted by our government were only used as a “recommendation” for voluntary compliances. The fossil fuel power generation industry has only had a 17% participation in the voluntary practices recommended by the CAA over the past 22 years. In 2011 power was given to the EPA to make mandatory the compliance recommendations, within the next three years. The majority of the 83% left non-compliant filed action as high as the Supreme Court to resend the power given to the EPA to enforce the CAA recomendations. The major complaint being,was that there is “not enough time for them to comply to the CAA standards” (in another 3 years) ( installing scrubbers at the generating units) I think 25 years, a quarter of a century is long enough time to comply! and yet the coal industry (, now known as the “clean coal coalition” advertises on CNN that in the last 10 years,they have spent over $10 billion in clean coal technology and research!…when all they had to do in that 10 years was to install scrubbers,the technology of 22 years ago to be in compliance with the CAA regulations of today…. $10 billion (about $ 3.5billion was subsidies ( your tax dollars) spent in research, could have installed scrubbers on every coal burning unit coast-to-coast seven times over. the burden of clean up should not be shouldered on the Government ( TAXPAYERS but on the industries who has the profited while polluting our air and water supplies. Some major lakes and waterways have been considered unsafe by the FDA and EPA because of the high Mercury levels found in the fish and waters traceably near and downstream of these polluting nightmares. I suggest you start the cleanup campaign by letting your Senators and Representatives know you are tired of allowing these facilities to profit at the cost of your health and environment,regardless of who finances their reelection campaign! Tom

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