Today, Freshwater is participating in the national Imagine a Day without Water, sponsored by the U.S. Water Alliance. From a shower to morning coffee or tea, watering our plants and gardens to flushing our toilets, water is essential to our daily life. Our bodies are mostly water—78% as infants and 60% in adults. Safe and reliable water is essential to every one of us.
We depend on clean and safe drinking water and reliable, sanitary disposal of water from our homes, schools, and businesses. Our community water systems— called water infrastructure—provide these out-of-sight services every minute, every day, all year long. Like the plumbing within our homes, we can think of these community water systems as the plumbing for our cities, the larger pipes that lie beneath our streets. Some of these systems—especially in smaller communities across Minnesota—haven’t been replaced since they were first built decades ago, and many are badly in need of repair and replacement if they are to keep the water we depend upon safe and clean.
A day without water? In the land of 10,000 lakes?
With nearly 15,000 lakes, free-flowing streams, and groundwater that supplies 75% of Minnesotans’ drinking water, imagining a day without water is hard for most of us. Our water supplies seem to never run dry … until this past summer of extreme heat and drought. At the drought’s peak, much of Minnesota was listed as being in extreme drought conditions. Use of water was restricted in many parts of the state and it was a time when more of us could actually imagine a day without water.
This past summer’s drought is only the most recent example of water stresses. The reality of climate change is speeding up the frequency of wet and dry periods. Heavier rains stress our water infrastructure systems, increasing flooding in urban and agricultural areas. More frequent drought stresses our uses of water for recreation, crops and more.
Adapting to water extremes—its absence or excesses—is on the minds of water infrastructure managers when they imagine a day without water. At Freshwater, we’re helping Minnesota community leaders adapt to the changing climate with smarter, more resilient water infrastructure designs, including water reuse—and we’re helping update the 2018 Report Card for Minnesota’s Infrastructure, set for release in early 2022. In the 2018 Report Card, Minnesota’s drinking water systems came in with a grade of C- and our wastewater (sewer) systems received a C grade—there is much room for improvement.
How can you help? Learn where your water comes from and where the water that goes down your drain is delivered—contact your local water utility for that information. You might be surprised by what you find out. Then, promote better understanding among your friends and family—tell them what you learned.
Freshwater has a longstanding mission: “Empower and inspire people to value and appreciate water.” On this Imagine a Day Without Water, let’s all do our part to appreciate the role that our water infrastructure providers play in providing clean and safe water every day. Check out resources for students to learn more!