AP

Report: Lack of water access costs U.S. $8.6B each year

Jun 28, 2022, 2:16 PM | Updated: 2:41 pm

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — At least 2 million Americans don’t have running water or a working toilet at home, a crisis that costs the U.S. economy $8.58 billion each year, according to a report released Tuesday by nonprofit DigDeep.

These water access issues disproportionately impact Indigenous tribes, people of color, immigrants, low-income people and those living in rural areas — communities that have been largely excluded from past investments in water infrastructure, according to the report.

“Closing the water access gap will help correct these inequities, and directly benefit underserved communities,” the report says.

California-based DigDeep compiled the report, “Draining: The Economic Impact of America’s Hidden Water Crisis,” using U.S. Census and other data to estimate the price tag of life without a toilet or tap.

The study found households without water and sanitation access spend an average of $15,800 a year more than other households in healthcare costs, lost productivity at work and at school and other issues. Purchasing bottled drinking water costs a family an average of $1,350 a year — an estimated $291 million for all households living without access across the country.

In many cases, those costs amount to more than that household’s annual income.

“People are really feeling this at the gas pump and in their home budgets and no one’s feeling it more than people who are already spending a third or half of their monthly income just to get enough water to survive,” DigDeep CEO and Founder George McGraw told The Associated Press.

Families living in places like West Virginia and Navajo Nation in the western U.S. spend hours each week hauling water from streams, wells, or grocery stores, McGraw said. They have a higher risk of waterborne disease, diabetes, physical injury and acute mental stress.

The report estimates that the increased risk of disease, physical injuries from hauling water, and greater overall healthcare bills that come from lack of water and sanitation access across the U.S. cost a total average of $762 million a year. Each year, the water access gap causes 219,000 cases of waterborne illness and kills an estimated 610 people, according to the report.

In 2019, DigDeep released a report with US Water Alliance revealing that more than 2.2 million Americans live without running water or a flush toilet at home.

“Now we are finally able to measure the true magnitude of those impacts in real dollars. We must close the water access gap,” McGraw said. “As this report shows, we can’t afford not to.”

The report suggests a number of recommendations to close the water gap, including that Congress appropriate around $42 billion in new spending to create long-term, sustainable water and sanitation access for all Americans. That includes $18.4 billion over the next 10 years.

DigDeep estimates that closing the water access gap could create nearly $200 billion of economic value over the next 50 years.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

7 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

7 days ago

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, and Kenya's Defense Minister Aden Duale, left, listen during...

Associated Press

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hospitalized with bladder issue

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized following symptoms pointing to an “emergent bladder issue."

9 days ago

Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church, stands with his wife, Victoria Osteen, as he conducts a...

Associated Press

Woman firing rifle killed by 2 off-duty officers at Houston’s Lakewood Church run by Joel Osteen

A woman entered the Texas megachurch of Joel Osteen and started shooting with a rifle Sunday and was killed by two off-duty officers.

9 days ago

(Pexels photo)...

Associated Press

Baby in Kansas City, Missouri, dies after her mother mistakenly put her in an oven

An infant in Missouri died when her mother mistakenly put her down for a nap in an oven, a prosecutor said Saturday.

10 days ago

Former Arizona Department of Corrections boss Charles Ryan received probation on Feb. 9, 2024. (AP ...

Associated Press

Former Arizona corrections boss sentenced to probation over armed 2022 standoff with police

Former Arizona Corrections Director Charles Ryan was sentenced Friday to probation for his no-contest plea to a disorderly conduct charge stemming from a 2022 armed standoff at his Tempe home.

11 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

...

Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

Report: Lack of water access costs U.S. $8.6B each year