Last week’s National Water Week and the upcoming World Water Week in Stockholm bring attention to water crises facing communities and governments around the world. Water shortages and contamination are challenging governments and industry leaders to come up with innovative water management solutions.
The news two years ago that Cape Town residents in South Africa were counting the days till they ran out of water rang alarms around the world.
But it is not just the African continent that faces water shortages. The World Wildlife Fund predicts that two-thirds of the world’s population may be struggling with water shortages by 2025.
Expanding and lengthed water droughts have sparked local governments and water industry leaders to take action.
In Calfornia, former Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order in 2015 that cities throughout the state reduce water usage by 25%. He followed up in 2018 by creating permanent water conservation rules.
California is not alone. A study by the U.S. Government and Accountability Office found that 40 out of 50 states are expected to face water shortages by 2025.
Drought is not the only cause of water shortages. Expanding populations, such as in Nevada and Arizona where the U.S. Census Bureau projects populations to double by 2030, also contribute to water scarcity.
In addition to water shortages and sustainability, other issues facing water management organizations and governments is contamination and pollution.
A News21 investigation called Troubled Water two years ago found that contamination from six decades of industrial waste dumping, farming pollution, and aging water infrastructure has contributed to unsafe water. Poorer regions are most affected by water contamination.
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National Water Week Addresses Investment in Clean, Sustainable Water Management
In the face of safe water and shortage issues, the nation’s water, wastewater, and stormwater utility leaders gathered in Washington last week to discuss water management and investment possibilities.
The event, “National Water Policy Fly-In,” served as an anchor for National Water Week.
It was presented by the National Associate of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the Water Environment Federation (WEF), and the WaterReuse Association.
The event served as a discussion forum where water utility leaders relayed to Congress the challenges facing utilities in their communities.
The importance of clean drinking water and policies that affect water utilities and water consumers were top issues. Among the discussions taking place, was a more significant federal investment in water infrastructure.
Congress is expected to take water industry concerns into consideration while working on a bipartisan infrastructure package, which could possibly be advanced this year.
If the infrastructure package is passed, it will follow the bipartisan passage of America’s Infrastructure Act of 2018.
The law provides for water infrastructure improvement in the following areas, among others:
- Flood control
- Water resources development
- Public water systems
- Improvement financing
- Technical assistance to small communities
The law also reauthorized the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, which provides additional funding to communities covered by the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act.
The Federal Administration and Congress plan to work with the clean water sector to improve the nation’s water infrastructure and pass policies that would help water utilities and their communities.
Breaking Down the Water Issues
Water district organizations outlined several areas they say would help provide clean, affordable and sustainable water for all U.S. citizens.
Utility leaders called on Congress to fund already passed acts and to increase existing clean water funds. They also asked for full funding of new grant programs under America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.
Breakout discussions between the Federal Agency and utility management leaders also addressed water reuse, compliance, and peak flow management, among other areas of water management.
In addition to water loss and management issues, keeping the nation’s water supplies clean and safe is also imperative.
During National Water Week, issues such as security, nutrient pollution, and green infrastructure were also discussed.
World Water Week Continues Theme of Access for All
The theme for World Water Week, which takes place in Stockholm, August 25 to August 30, 2019, is “Water for Society – Including All.” It follows the objective of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, “No One Left Behind.”
World Water Week will focus the discussion on access to and use of clean, quality water for all people around the globe.
The Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) is the organizer of World Water Week.