With 358 inland lakes in Oakland County, in a state surrounded by the largest freshwater source in the world – now at record-high levels – it’s difficult to ever imagine living a day without water. The Michigan Section/American Water Works Association (MI/AWWA), however, asks us to “Imagine a Day Without Water” on Oct. 23, so we can help preserve our water sources.
The annual national observance aims to shine attention on the value of clean, reliable water and the need for reinvestment in aging infrastructure. MI/AWWA joins states across the country working to make an impact on the future of water policy and individual water use.
Imagine the turmoil and outright danger caused by losing our water resources for a single day. Across the nation, a single day without water would jeopardize $43 billion of economic activity, according to the Value of Water Alliance.
Already, an average of 700 water main breaks occur in the U.S. every day, or approximately 237,600 costly disruptions for businesses, homes and industry each year. In Michigan, most water comes to us through pipes and treatment plants that are 50 to 100 years old, many past their original life spans. Fixing and upgrading those systems not only will ensure a reliable flow of water, but will also boost the economy. Every $1 spent to improve infrastructure generates $6 in economic activity.
Water systems are called the “invisible infrastructure” when compared to crumbling roads that command attention when we hit a pothole with our cars. It’s encouraging that the Legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whiter added $120 million to the state budget for water infrastructure improvements and treatment of contaminants in water systems statewide. The cost to make needed repairs, however, and upgrade Michigan’s water delivery systems over the next 25 years will top $1 trillion.
Michigan uses as much water each day as flows over Niagara Falls in four hours.
The average family of four in the U.S. consumes about 300 gallons of water daily — 109,000 gallons a year — according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Of all the water consumed in the U.S., 46 percent is used to manufacture products. For example, it takes 39,000 gallons of water to manufacture a single automobile.
Clean and dependable water is the lifeblood of our health, economy and recreation, and it shouldn’t be taken for granted. “Imagine a Day Without Water” is a time to remind us.
Bonnifer Ballard is executive director of Michigan Section, American Water Works Association, a vital community of nearly 1,500 water professionals in Michigan leading the advancement of water knowledge and improving the value and quality of water in our lives. AWWA is the largest nonprofit, scientific and educational association dedicated to managing and treating water, the world’s most important resource.