If you think replacing pipes and building treatment plants is expensive, it’s not. Poisoning our kids is expensive. The people of Flint, Michigan, still have to drink from water bottles, polluted rivers in Iowa and tap water in South Carolina are linked to cancer, and lead has been found in the water of public schools in New Jersey. If we want to have any chance of fixing this situation, we need to be honest about it: our country is in the midst of a clean water crisis.
In 2015, 21 million Americans were getting their water from systems that violated health standards. The problem is particularly pronounced in rural and low-income communities that are home to large factories. Their water systems are absorbing tons of pollutants like nitrates and detergents, and there isn’t a big enough tax base to pay for essential water treatment plants.
Our infrastructure is falling into disrepair and we’re dedicating less and less money to fix it. The EPA estimates that $384 billion will be needed to replace thousands of miles of pipes and water treatment plants and make other infrastructure improvements. The lack of investing this money hurts communities economically, especially those that rely on water tourism, by raising bills and bringing down real estate values. And, of course, it increases the long term costs of caring for a child who has been exposed to lead or other contaminants—not to mention the tragedy of causing this child and family suffering.
We must work with state and local governments along with our allies in the private sector to leverage the resources we need to tackle this problem together.
But we need to realize that this is more than an infrastructure or economic problem—this is a moral problem. As the parent of two young boys, I can’t imagine having kids who have been drinking water for years and now knowing that their health might be damaged as a result. No American should have to worry about what’s coming out of their tap.
It’s time that America declares safe drinking water a fundamental right. We need to build up water infrastructure in our cities and small towns to make sure no one has to worry if the water they see their child drinking will make them sick or damage their brain.
Problems to be Solved
- checkMillions of Americans are drinking water from unsafe sources.
- checkWater pollution is sickening millions of Americans each year, costing us lives and billions of dollars in medical costs and environmental damage.
- People look up and say “Oh, replacing the pipes is expensive, or oh another substance would be more expensive.” Are you kidding me? You know what’s expensive? Poisoning our kids.
- checkProvide every American access to clean drinking water
As President I will...
- Establish clean drinking water as a right.
- Invest the $384B estimated by the EPA as necessary to replace pipes, build new water treatment plants, and restore wetlands.
- Regularly test all water sources and fix any problems as soon as they’re detected.
- Keep big polluters in check by giving the EPA and state Departments of Natural Resources the support they need to enforce existing regulations.
- Institute a system of fees and investments to ensure that businesses using chemicals that can seep into our water systems are disposing of them properly and investing in new chemicals that aren’t as dangerous.