Risk of rise in water insecurity in US due to COVID-19 and heatwaves

A combination of heatwaves and the COVID-19 pandemic could heighten water insecurity in the US, according to an op-ed in The Hill.

Written by IWSN researcher Andrea Gerlak, professor in the School of Geography and Development and research professor at the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy at the University of Arizona, the article states: “the pandemic has shed light on underlying, systemic challenges of access to clean water and affordable energy in some parts of the U.S. More than 2 million Americans lack access to running water, indoor plumbing or wastewater services. African Americans and Latino households are almost twice as likely as whites to lack complete plumbing, according to the U.S. Water Alliance. Recent research found that Black households are disconnected from water utilities more frequently than White households who receive notices at similar rates. Native American households are disconnected at the highest rate of any race.”

Andrea highlights that federal funding for water infrastructure has declined by 80% over the past 50 years and she makes the case that “we need a broader dialogue about how best to prioritize, fund and implement water infrastructure in the US…The perfect storm of heat, COVID-19 and record unemployment are heightening energy and water insecurities and revealing systemic inequities for some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens, and demanding action from the government on multiple fronts.”