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Martin County Tap Water Samples 2016-2018 Photo: Martin County Water Warriors FB via The New Republic
The Governor of Kentucky, Republican Matt Bevin, is considering whether to declare a state of emergency that would unlock resources to repair the dilapidated water system in Martin County, Kentucky deep in the heart of coal country. In the meantime, the residents there must buy bottled water or hope for donated water in order to keep from drinking the tap water while they wait for action. The Washington Post published an exposé on how years of deterioration in the pipes, mismanagement by the local public service commission, and an inability to raise rates to pay for repairs have created a $10 million price tag to fix the broken system.
Residents in the county have been dealing with the water issue for decades — but things reached a crisis point last year when water service to many county residents was turned off, the county water board fell apart, and the state Attorney General opened a criminal investigation into mismanagement there, according to The Post. While the state legislature passed a resolution encouraging the Governor to declare an emergency, but the Governor is still on the fence, promising more funding to turn things around. The county is deeply in debt and forty percent of the residents live below the poverty line, and both the coal mines and the coal severance funds are now gone. It is hard to see how the county can rebuild without significant outside help. And complicating things there is that the county is so small with complicated topography that the costs for repairs are difficult and extremely high per capita.
Martin County, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, is hardly an exception — they gave the nation’s drinking water system a D grade in a recent report. Many water systems across the country are dependent upon water systems that are 25 years beyond their life expectancy and beset by leaks. The American Water Works Association estimates, according to The Post, that the country will need to spend $1 trillion over the next 25 years to repair all the water systems that will fail completely during that time.
Why This Matters: The bill is about to come due for our country’s aging water infrastructure system. Flint, Michigan and Martin County, Kentucky’s water problems are occurring with increasing frequency across the U.S. — in rural areas and in cities. The country needs a major investment to rebuild these systems. The Marshall Plan analogy is fitting. The price tag is indeed high, but, providing clean drinking water to all Americans is something we must find a way to fund. Many ask how will we pay for a Green New Deal, of which replacing this aging infrastructure is a key component. We wonder how anyone can think we can continue to delay infrastructure spending indefinitely.
As California’s drought conditions are worsening, Nestle is pumping millions of gallons of water from the San Bernardino forest. State water officials have drafted a cease-and-desist order to force the company to stop overpumping from Strawberry Creek, which provides drinking water for about 750,000 people.
The ice-out date for Maine’s Lake Auburn is now three weeks earlier than it was two centuries ago, the Portland Press Herald reports, and other lakes across New England show similar trends. Climate change is not good for ice, and that includes Maine’s lakes that freeze over every winter.
Why This Matters: A disrupted winter with lakes that “defrost” earlier has multiple knock-on effects for freshwater: in addition to harming fish in lakes, the resulting large cyanobacteria algae blooms that form can be harmful to human health.
by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Drought conditions cover 85% of Mexico as lakes and reservoirs dry up across the country. Mexico City is experiencing its worst drought in 30 years, and the reservoirs and aquifers are so depleted that some residents don’t have tap water. The capital city relies on water pumped in from […]
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