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What's the Deal with U.S. Water Infrastructure ?

Water infrastructure is a vast and complex system in the United States. Its purpose is to provide safe, accessible water to every person in the country. While U.S. water is generally considered among the safest to consume, hidden between the lines are concerns regarding aging infrastructure, regulatory failures and unreliable water sources. All of these could result in periodic water crises. 


The Flint water crisis that began in 2014 in Flint, Michigan, dominates recent memory. This water crisis could have been prevented, had there been enough investment in replacing lead pipes, maintaining regulatory standards and modernizing community water systems.


Water regulation is shared among the federal government and states, a common dynamic in our federal system of government. This relationship is crucial for balancing the power of national and local interests, but it is not without its problems. Critics note that fragmented responsibility makes it harder to determine the country’s water needs. Communication lapses between state and federal officials can stagnate innovation in our infrastructure.


Despite water in the U.S. being some of the safest water to consume, the American Society of Civil Engineers has given our water infrastructure a 'D' grade. Innovation and renovation are desperately needed.


As with most things, money is needed to re-invent water infrastructure. Biden's recent U.S. Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act) commits $15 billion just to lead service replacement in our water transportation systems.


This is certainly an expensive undertaking. But perhaps, as we remember incidents like the Flint water crisis, we will find the cost worth it. After all, how can a country survive without water?

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