No resource is as ubiquitous or taken so much for granted as water. “We all live downstream”, as the saying goes, but most humans live upstream as well, making easy the disposal of our modern lives’ waste and rubbish. Safeguarding this most precious resource both for drinking water and surface water should be the goal of all, and is particularly important to Rocky. As mayor of Salt Lake City, he oversaw the purchase of valuable watershed areas, created water resource education programs, and fought to preserve water resources through climate-change prevention initiatives. Clean water is relatively plentiful in the US, but as we deplete our aquifers and climate change disrupts snowfall and the resultant snowpack that most of the Rocky Mountain states rely on for water, America’s access to clean, affordable water may be at dire risk.
In the United States, clean, safe drinking or culinary water is taken for granted by the vast majority of Americans. However, the US has serious problems with water quality, resulting from agricultural and municipal runoff and industrial waste. As our water supplies, including surface water (lakes, streams, and rivers), stored water (reservoirs and snowpack), and groundwater, become polluted or contaminated, it requires increased treatment to be safe for consumption. This leads to increased resource and monetary demands to keep our citizens’ culinary water safe and plentiful, while the true solution is to cure the causes, not the symptoms, of impure water.
Globally, few ecological crises rival the lack of access to clean water. UNICEF finds that 3,000 children under five die of diarrheal diseases every day, and 88% of these deaths are due to poor drinking water, lack of sanitation, and poor hygiene 1. Further, every $1 invested in water and sanitation results in economic benefits of $5 to $46 2. Women and children also spend millions of hours annually fetching drinking water, which results in lost time for farming, education, and economic development. Water and sanitation projects implemented in developing countries have decreased the death rate of children less than 5 years of age, and increased the impression of the United States abroad, which is sorely needed at this time.
As President, Rocky Anderson will continue his focus on the environment, including clean water, by:
- Mitigating global climatic change that will affect water quality and quantity both domestically and abroad.
- Invest in and implement 21st century technologies to lessen the nutrient discharge from wastewater treatment plants, which seriously degrades receiving waters across the nation
- Determine the true risk hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, poses to our nation’s groundwater, and ensure that the pursuance of carbon resources through this means poses no threat to groundwater quality.
- Sound investment in global initiatives to prevent waterborne disease and provide water for crops.
- Review and update, if needed, the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System, which regulates the point discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States.
- Work to protect and recharge our nation’s aquifers, which are at serious risk from unsustainable withdrawal and contamination.
1. UN Water, Tackling a Global Crisis: International Year of Sanitation 2008, 2008
2. Hutton G, L Haller, & J. Bartram, ‘Global cost-benefit analysis of water supply and sanitation interventions’. Journal of Water and Health 2007:5.4;481-502, 2007