The Water Environment Federation (WEF) is deeply concerned about the dire circumstances in Jackson, Miss., where the city’s 150,000 residents are without safe, reliable running water in homes, businesses and schools.
This is an unacceptable situation in the United States in the 21st Century, which reflects a historic lack of investment in water infrastructure and in communities of color. The results, as seen in Jackson, are crumbling water systems, threats to public health, and significant economic losses. Unfortunately, there are many communities across the country that could be the next Jackson because of the lack of investment in water systems.
WEF has advocated for decades for massive investments in water infrastructure necessary to maintain and upgrade the nation’s systems and ensure equity for all people. Passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was a critical positive step forward, but now it is essential to expedite distribution of funds and prioritize the communities in the most need. There also must be consistent, long-term funding so that communities can properly take care of infrastructure and avoid reaching crisis level.
Additionally, WEF calls for:
- Further elevation of the issue of water equity and environmental justice by all levels of government and water organizations.
- A focus on building resilience to the impacts of climate change, such as the severe flooding that has repeatedly overwhelmed water systems across the country.
- Robust support for training and recruitment so utilities can maintain an adequate workforce and individuals can assist in times of need.
- Early assistance and intervention for communities when problems begin to avoid reaching a disaster that threatens public health and local economies.
Jackson is not the first community to face a water crisis and it will not be the last. It is time for the U.S. and the water sector to become much more proactive in addressing the infrastructure and environmental justice challenges facing too many communities.
WEF is now working to increase its focus on these issues and to identify ways to bring attention and solutions to the problems. WEF’s 30,000 members are the world’s foremost water experts and WEF offers industry leading technical and educational resources. WEF and its members are available to help in Jackson and in other communities facing water challenges.