By Allison Harvey Turner, Randall Kempner, and Ridgway White of the Water Foundation (crosspost)

This post excerpted below was originally published by the  Water Foundation on the Currents blog. It also appear in Inside Philanthropy. 

“It’s time to redesign water systems in the United States to meet the needs of all people and communities — not just the privileged. Our present water system structure leaves many, particularly poor people, at risk of significant health and safety dangers. Today, amid a public health emergency, millions of US residents do not have clean water, and race is the strongest predictor of whether someone has running water at home.

According to DigDeep and the US Water Alliance, people of color lack access to safe and affordable drinking water at much higher rates than white people. They also are most likely to be impacted by floods and droughts, which can disrupt water systems.

The crisis facing US water infrastructure is of our own making. Federal funding for water infrastructure has plummeted since the 1970s and now accounts for just 4% of all water-related capital investment. The majority of water infrastructure funding currently comes from local water rates and state funding, which often reinforces underinvestment in poor communities.

With population growth and climate change, the need for these investments is even greater than expected — but the money is just not there. Or more accurately, our elected leaders have failed to appropriate sufficient funds to meet this core human need.

The public is increasingly aware of this failure. Even as voters called on Congress to pass new COVID-19 relief and recovery measures, public support for immediate water investments remained high. Recent polling by the Water Hub at Climate Nexus found that 79% of US voters supported assistance for families struggling to pay water bills, and 77% supported investing in preparation for future floods and droughts. By a 2-to-1 margin, voters want the federal government to immediately invest more in water infrastructure.”

You can read the full blog post here.


About the Authors

Allison Harvey Turner is CEO of the Water Foundation.

Randall Kempner is CEO of the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation.

Ridgway White is president and CEO of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.