U.S. is facing an urgent clean water crisis Special

Posted Mar 20, 2019 by Tim Sandle
While there is considerable focus on clean water supply in low income countries, many more prosperous countries also have issues with water quality, according to campaigner Meena Sankaran. She raises some particular issues about water quality in the U.S.
Lake Constance: Approximately 1 000 tonnes of fish are caught in the lake each year.
Lake Constance: Approximately 1,000 tonnes of fish are caught in the lake each year.
Experts predict global demand for water will outpace our water supply by 2030. To highlight this, the United Nations has mandated that International World Water Day takes place every year on March 22nd.
The purpose of the United Nations International World Water Day is to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. The theme for 2019 is "Leaving no one behind" and encourages people to consider marginalized groups as these are often overlooked and discriminated against when they try to access safe water.
To assess the global impact of clean water supplies social entrepreneur and water safety expert Meena Sankaran, KETOS founder and CEO, explains to Digital Journal why now is the time to move beyond just campaigns spurring consumer water conservation to the actual active monitoring and management of water risks?
Sankaran has been honored as a Nasdaq Milestone Maker and as one of the ‘Awe-Inspiring Women of 2018’, as selected by Forbes. This was in recognition for her non-profit work and campaigning at global events including the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit and the recent United Nations Sustainable Development meetings.
Through her activities, Sankaran is forcing businesses and consumers alike to rethink their approach to water. One important area that Sankaran highlights is infrastructure legislation in relation to the U.S. Here she explains: “We can no longer ignore America’s water problem; our infrastructure needs a massive overhaul. The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act and America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 are not a full fix.”
She adds: “With the Environmental Protection Agency anticipating costs upwards of $743 billion and the American Society of Civil Engineers estimating costs closer to $1 trillion to fix our water infrastructure issues, we need to make water a legislative priority. Until then, our severely outdated infrastructure will continue to put safety at risk.”
There are other considerations as well, Sankaran explains: “And while experts predict global demand for water will outpace our supply by 2030, supply is not the only concern. Even if we improve water efficiency and create a sustainable supply, most still won’t know what is actually in the water they use and drink. As World Water Day approaches, it is important to note that water quality matters every single day!”
She also notes that water supply issues are affecting both low and high-income countries respectively. As she explains: “Growing up in Mumbai, not having access to clean water was a reality during my childhood. I am dedicated to changing the way the world uses water, and the convergence of water, science and the Internet of Things (IoT) finally affords that opportunity. While I may not live in India anymore, Lawrence County in Alabama, Flint and Detroit in Michigan, and countless other U.S. communities have proven that unsafe water is not just a third-world [sic] concern.”
Turning her attention to the state of water supply in the U.S., she notes: “America’s water infrastructure is broken, and concerns about safe drinking water are rising. How can such an advanced, health-focused society STILL not know what is in its water … in our schools, in our homes, in our farms and in our factories?”
These issues loop back to infrastructure, Sankaran notes: “While more communities are testing their water and finding out that their outdated infrastructures are filling children with unhealthy levels of lead, it is a good start but not nearly enough. We still don’t have any actively enforced national standards for monitoring lead levels in school drinking water.”
There are other impurities of concern as well: “We shouldn’t be waiting for brown water from faucets to sound the alarm. Water that runs clear can still be terribly toxic. We need to monitor for copper, nitrates, arsenic, chlorine, dissolved oxygen and silica, as well as organics and biologicals to actively maintain the health of our water supply system from treatment to delivery. Smart water grid management that addresses both distribution and safety will become a must-have over the next decade as we embrace the need for a proactive and advanced water quality monitoring system that alerts us immediately if there are hazardous toxins, contaminants and pollutants in any water source.”