As the annual national observance of “Imagine a Day Without Water” is today, Oct. 23, Michigan Section/American Water Works Association (MI/AWWA) asks businesses and residents to support more investment in aging water infrastructure. Although Michigan is surrounded by the largest freshwater source in the world — now at record-high levels — it’s hard to imagine living a day without water, but some communities have had to do so when systems break down.

The state and national observance aims to shine attention on the value of clean, reliable water and its crucial role in our lives and economy. MI/AWWA joins states across the country working to make an impact on the future of water policy and individual water use.

“Fixing and upgrading those systems not only will ensure a reliable flow of water, but will also boost the economy,” explains Bonnifer Ballard, executive director of MI/AWWA. “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 cars are damaged by potholes. The cost to make needed repairs and upgrade Michigan’s water delivery systems over the next 25 years will top $1 trillion.

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 about 237,600 costly disruptions for businesses, homes and industry each year. In Michigan, most water comes through pipes and treatment plants that are 50 to 100 years old, many past their original life spans.

Michigan uses as much water each day as flows over Niagara Falls in four hours.

In Southeast Michigan, the Great Lakes Water Authority delivers water to nearly 4 million people every day through more than 800 miles of pipes. 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,” says Ballard. “’Imagine a Day Without Water’ is a time to remind us to reinvest in our most valuable resource.”