Ongoing Water Crisis Brings Challenges to Every Corner of The United States

Michael Angee, Life Editor

From affordability to toxic chemicals, Americans continue to fight the ongoing water crisis across the country. 

Between 2010 and 2018, American water bills around the country rose at least 27%, while the highest increase was 154% in Austin, Texas. Now, people are wondering why the price of water rose this much in just eight years.

“So I think it’s an intersection of poor policy making, poor infrastructure, and at the same time, it’s climate change and everything that’s going wrong in just how instead of fixing problems, we do like little band-aids. And then problems keep coming up and things keep going wrong and then here we are, putting band-aids instead of solving the actual problem, junior and president-elect of Science National Honor Society Isabel Duran said. 

Much of the change comes from skyrocketing federal aid expenditures, as the threat of maintenance, environmental and health risks have all increased. This is partially due to COVID-19, as well as ongoing inflation.

The current crisis has affected people of all socioeconomic statuses, but those in lower-income areas – particularly within cities – are especially affected. Notably, parts of Jackson, MS. are receiving some of the worst parts of the water crisis, such as brown water and toxic chemicals that people use to drink, as well as other everyday necessities.

“That’s a problem they’re [policy makers] facing now. Like, yes, they see these problems and they have huge gaping holes in just infrastructure in general, [but] it’s such a big problem to fix it like where do we even start,” Duran said.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, two of the United States’ most important water sources are in danger of reaching “dead pool” status due to climate change and overconsumption. Reaching the “dead pool” level occurs when a water source is no longer able to flow downstream. 

Lake Mead in Nevada and Arizona, and Lake Powell in Utah are at their lowest water levels yet. The Lake Mead reservoir was created as a result of the construction of the Hoover Dam in the 1930s, and Lake Powell was built in the 1960s with the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam. Lake Mead and Lake Powell provide water for millions in Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Wyoming and Mexico as well as provide irrigation for agriculture. 

“Little by little, and maybe indirectly, we are contributing to the problem that is climate change, And yes, these treatment plans and these water sources have been existing for so many years and they have been working, but then if you add climate change, right, like floods or droughts or all these extreme weather conditions, [they] are leading to these problems as well,” Duran said. “They are causing things to be so exasperated.”