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New Report: Over 2 Million Americans Living Without Access to Water and Sanitation

November 18, 2019

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Today two national non-profit groups, DigDeep and the US Water Alliance, released a new report, “Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States: A National Action Plan.” While most Americans take reliable access to clean, safe water for granted, this new nationwide study found that more than two million Americans are living without running water, indoor plumbing, or wastewater treatment.

On the Navajo Nation in the Southwest, families drive for hours to haul barrels of water. In West Virginia, they drink from polluted streams. In Alabama, parents warn their children not to play outside because their yards are flooded with sewage. Families living in Texas border towns worry because there is no running water to fight fires.

Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States is the most comprehensive national study on the more than two million Americans who lack access to water service. The report fills an important knowledge gap: there is no one entity—a federal agency or research institution—that collects comprehensive data on the scope of the United States water access problem.

The report examines six areas where the water access gap is particularly acute: Central Valley of California, border colonias in Texas, rural counties in Mississippi and Alabama, rural Appalachia, “Four Corners” area in the Southwest, and Puerto Rico.

Researchers spoke to families living without water and captured their stories of poor health and economic hardship. The authors also interviewed local community leaders who are distributing water, building community-centered water projects where no infrastructure exists, and advocating for policy change to bring more reliable services to rural and unincorporated communities. Despite these community efforts, data suggests that some communities may be backsliding; six states and Puerto Rico saw recent increases in their populations without water access.

The report makes several recommendations to help close the water gap in the United States. Recommendations include re-introducing Census questions about whether homes have working taps and toilets, as well as changes to how the federal government funds and regulates water systems for rural and unincorporated areas. There are also recommendations for the philanthropic and global WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) sectors to drive community empowerment, deploy innovative technologies, and apply successful WASH models from abroad here in the United States.

Read the full report at closethewatergap.org.

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SOURCE US Water Alliance; DigDeep