Try to imagine a day without water. On a personal level, no way to make coffee or tea, take a shower, or wash your hands, dishes, or clothes. For our country, just one day without water service would put $43.5 billion of economic activity at risk, including hospitals, factories and farms, to name a few. Just eight days of a national water service outage would put nearly two million jobs in jeopardy, not to mention the public health and safety implications.
The impact of our clean water infrastructure on public health is immense. Countries lacking such systems collectively suffer two million waterborne illness related deaths each year. In the event of a widespread long-term outage, the risk of waterborne disease, especially gastroenteritis, increases while doctor’s offices and hospitals would be unable to operate properly to treat these complaints.
After decades of under funding, our water infrastructure, is aging and in need of investment. Drought, flooding, and population changes are stressing our water and wastewater systems. Even without those influences, most of our water infrastructure, including over a million miles of underground pipes, is reaching the end of its useful life, making it vulnerable to malfunction and breakdown.
Today, the Virginia Department of Health joins elected officials, water utilities, community leaders, educators, and businesses across the country participating in the fourth annual Imagine a Day without Water, a national day of education and advocacy about the value of water. Led by the Value of Water Campaign, hundreds of organizations across the country aim to raise awareness about the crucial need for investment in our nation’s water infrastructure.
Virginia Health Commissioner, Dr. M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA, asked his four year old granddaughter what she would miss the most if we didn’t have clean water. “She said she would miss having dinner with the family because sometimes you need water to make dinner. She went on to say that without water, the house would be dirty and she’d be so hungry and thirsty. Then she said let’s stop talking about that because it’s actually scary a little bit. Well said! What would you miss most?”