COLUMBUS, Ohio - It's Infrastructure Week, and efforts in Ohio to improve water quality are among those highlighted by the "Value of Water Coalition."
The group is part of a campaign to educate Americans about why water is essential and why new investments are needed in the nation's water system. Coalition director Radhika Fox, chief executive of the U.S. Water Alliance, said that with an aging water infrastructure, $4.8 trillion in investment is needed over years to maintain a state of good repair.
"The challenges are really great," she said, "but all around the country, municipalities like the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District are making those investments and, in so doing, really strengthening their economies."
Those challenges include unsafe drinking water, levee-breaking floods, pipeline bursts and rivers contaminated with raw sewage. A new brief from the Value of Water Coalition features the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's work to reduce pollution discharged into Lake Erie through the construction of tunnels, treatment-plant improvements and green infrastructure projects.
A poll conducted this year found that a majority of Americans think their local water infrastructure is in good shape, but Fox noted that 95 percent also said it's "important" or "very important" that it be improved and modernized. She said recent news headlines of high lead levels in water supplies show the urgency.
"The tragedy that happened in Flint, Mich., really spotlights for the nation the fact that we have to ensure that there's safe and reliable water service for everybody, regardless of income," she said.
Ohio has seen its fair share of water problems, with lead discovered in the water system in Sebring and toxic algae from Lake Erie contaminating Toledo's water supply in 2014.
The brief and poll are online at thevalueofwater.org.