Most Americans take the water systems that bring clean water to and from their homes and businesses for granted. They turn on the tap and flush the toilet without thinking twice about where that water came from or where it will go.
But could you imagine a day without water? Without safe, reliable water and wastewater service?
A Day Without Water = Crisis
A day without water means no water comes out of your tap to brush your teeth. When you flush the toilet, nothing happens. Firefighters have no water to put out fires; farmers couldn’t water their crops; and doctors couldn’t wash their hands. A single nationwide day without water service would put $43.5 billion of economic activity at risk. In just eight days, a national water service stoppage would put nearly 2 million jobs in jeopardy.
A day without water is nothing short of a humanitarian, political, and economic crisis.
While unimaginable for most of us, there are communities that have lived without water. From man-made tragedies in Flint, Michigan, to water scarcity issues in Central California, to wastewater runoff in the Great Lakes, water issues abound. There are millions of Americans living in communities that never had the infrastructure to provide safe water service, relying on bottled water and septic systems each day.
America can do better.
The problems that face our drinking water and wastewater systems are multi-faceted. The infrastructure is aging and in need of investment, having gone underfunded for decades. Drought, flooding, and climate change stress water and wastewater systems. Although these regional challenges will require locally-driven solutions, reinvestment in our water must be a national priority.
At Johnson County, the leaders of our community understand the importance of reliable sanitary sewer system and the role it plays in our collective prosperity. One example is the investment in the Johnson County’s Tomahawk Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility improvements, which include building an expanded plant to treat all tributary flows. This project will have water quality benefits for Indian Creek, as well as the downstream waters of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. It will address nutrient removal as excessive nutrients can be harmful by degrading habitats and decreasing the amount of oxygen in the water.
Each year the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) recognizes public wastewater facilities for outstanding compliance with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit limits. This recognition program consists of Peak Performance Awards in three categories - Platinum, Gold and Silver. In 2016, Johnson County Wastewater plants won four Platinum and two Gold awards.
The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners proclaimed Oct. 12 as Imagine a Day Without Water during its regular Oct. 12 meeting.
The "Imagine a Day Without Water" campaign is an organized effort to highlight the critical importance of reliable access to clean water in our lives and the investment in infrastructure that is necessary to protect this valuable resource.