Water scarcity is increasingly becoming an issue in the United States

Residents in southwestern states have been dealing with water scarcity issues for a number of years already, but now an increasing number of Americans across the country are dealing with the effects of drought, flooding, population growth and energy production.

Due to record-breaking drought in the southwest, local government was forced to release an executive order for cities to reduce the amount of water they use by 25%. Low rainfall in the area means there is not enough freshwater suitable for human use in lakes, rivers and reservoirs. In the greater Los Angeles area, the region’s water supplier now delivers 15% less water to the cities and charges local utility companies up to four times the normal rate.

Everybody plays a role in the water scarcity issues of the U.S. It’s estimated that the average American used 88 gallons of water per day in 2010.

Fast Facts

  • Americans use 27,400 million gallons of water per day for preparing food, washing clothes, flushing toilets and watering lawns.
  • The Colorado River Basin provides water to seven states: Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.
  • Water bills are not affordable for 14 million households. A third of American households might not be able to pay their water bill by 2020.

Water issues throughout the U.S.

In 2014, the city of Flint, Michigan, switched water sources during the construction of a pipeline connecting Flint with Lake Huron. The new water source, Flint River, was found to be 19 times more corrosive than water from Detroit, which is where residents had previously been receiving their water from. The water was not properly treated, and lead from the aging pipes polluted resident’s tap water. Lead consumption can affect the heart, kidneys and nerves. After the city switched the water source, a study revealed that the number of children with elevated lead levels in their blood had nearly doubled.

It’s not just Michigan that is dealing with aging water infrastructure. There are more than one million miles of pipes beneath America’s streets that are reaching the age where they will need replacing. The longer this replacement process is delayed, the greater the risk of degrading water service, increasing water service disruptions and money spent on emergency repairs.

Learn more

Explore more local issues