Our baby boomer generation infrastructure needs a face-lift, and not a cheap one. Over six billion gallons of water are dripping, busting, and streaming out of our pipelines everyday, demanding repair or replacement. Since the 70s funding for water infrastructure has slipped from 60 percent to now 9 percent. Mix dwindling financial resources and foreseeable and present climate change, and that gets the U.S. a bill of over $1 trillion to assuage the effects of aging water systems.

The money has to come from somewhere, meaning the increase in spending will partially be passed to the customer – that’s you. If water rate restructuring, wage increases, and job opportunities, among other impactful variables, don’t take a simultaneous upward shift, then that leaves about a third of Americans at risk of struggling to pay their water bill in just three years time. Now that’s a problem that will really shake America’s foundation.

It’s debated that perhaps water is currently undervalued in the U.S., and that an increase in water rates would cause more people and public and private entities to use it more wisely. What isn’t debatable is that water is vital to each of us. We simply cannot live without it. Yet, an increase in rates could mean water inaccessibility for millions of people. Let’s do our part to conserve it while Washington disputes the solution to how we can continue to afford it. Utilities can proactively monitor water assets to predict and prevent catastrophic system failures and to postpone expensive replacements and repair. We can all be more mindful with daily usage and take steps to conserve the water that flows out from our taps. A unified effort is required to address this complex issue. Put water on your radar; now is the time to invest.