News Briefs: Millions of Americans Live Without Running Water, Says Report

Also in this week's sewer and water news, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issues a guide to bolster natural disaster resilience

A recent study by DigDeep and US Water Alliance claims more than 2 million Americans are living without running water, indoor plumbing or wastewater treatment services.

The report says families in West Virginia, Alabama, Texas and the Navajo Reservation in the southwestern U.S. drive for hours to pick up tap water, drink from streams or prevent children from playing outside due to open-air sewage.

“Access to clean, reliable running water and safe sanitation are baseline conditions for health, prosperity and well-being,” DigDeep CEO George McGraw and US Water Alliance CEO Radhika Fox say in a statement in the report. “However, they remain out of reach for some of the most vulnerable people in the United States.”

Low-Income Ohioans Pay a Day's Wages for Sewer/Water Service

Households in Ohio with lower income are paying a day’s wages for water and sewer service, according to a new report.

The study is by the Alliance for the Great Lakes and the Ohio Environmental Council, and it shows that sewer/water service costs more than eight hours of minimum wage labor for 80% of the state’s communities.

The report proposes customer-assistance program, progressive volumetric pricing, and utility consolidation and possible solutions.

Government Accountability Office Releases Natural Disaster Guide

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently issued a new guide to help bolster resilience when it comes to natural disasters. The new framework is intended to help managers across government explore opportunities to promote disaster resilience and reduce the mounting costs associated with the federal response to climate and weather disasters.

“This important new tool is designed to help federal agencies and others refine their response to the growing threat posed by natural disasters,” says Gene Dodaro, comptroller general of the U.S. and head of the GAO. “Investments in disaster resilience are a promising way to reduce the overall impact of future disasters and minimize the federal government’s fiscal exposure.”

Since 2005, federal funding for disaster assistance is approaching half a trillion dollars, most recently for catastrophic hurricanes, flooding, wildfires and other losses in 2017 and 2018. The need to better manage the federal government’s fiscal exposure to climate change has been on GAO’s High Risk List since 2013. Issued with the start of each new Congress, the High Risk List brings attention to federal programs and activities vulnerable to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement or needing transformation.

Early Wisconsin Freeze Has Utilities Concerned About Pipe Breaks

The early onset of winter after a wet summer and fall has utility manager Nancy Quirk of Green Bay (Wisconsin) Water Utility concerned about pipe breaks.

With all the moisture in the soil, the frost is expected to penetrate deeper down, she says. “The frost is going to form wherever there is water,” Quirk tells WSAW News. “So as the frost goes down and freezes, and it finds more water, it will continue to create frost and go down further and further.”

Water mains are about 6-feet underground in Green Bay, and frost levels typically reach 4-5 feet deep. “But if we have sustained cold temps, that is when we start to see the frost going deeper and deeper in the ground and start affecting our water main and services,” says Quirk.


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