If there is one thing every American tends to take for granted, it’s a clean glass of drinking water drawn from a household tap. However, the availability of clean water is under assault across the country due to lax government regulation and outdated methods of handling sewage and toxic chemicals.
A case in point is Teton County in Wyoming. The drinking water for the residents of that community is derived from a single source: the Snake River Aquifer. While this underground water resource has been providing clean drinking water for centuries, it averages a depth of just five feet below the ground surface. That has made the Snake River Aquifer vulnerable to pollution coming from thousands of home septic tanks that have grown old, damaged, or leaky. Raw sewage is increasingly finding its way into the underground aquifer – that water then gets pumped up for in-home use.
Even though water delivered to cities and towns is treated by municipal water plant treatment centers, the end result continues to be more pollutant agents finding their way inside the homes of Wyoming residents. Luckily, the residents of Teton County are not taking this sitting down. Civic action groups have formed, including Protect Our Water Jackson Hole (POWJH). This group has teamed up with the Wyoming Outdoor Council to put pressure on public officials to remedy problems with septic tank leakage.
The Wyoming case demonstrates that maintaining clean drinking water is a matter of good government management combined with mustering the political will to take action. Failing clean water infrastructures, such as the famous example of the lead-tainted water of Flint, Michigan, is the result of government oversight that goes lax. Some of it is caused by misguided efforts to save money on expensive municipal projects in an effort to cut budgets so that politicians can brag about “keeping tax rates low.”
However, when it comes to clean water, there is no substitute for spending what needs to be spent in order to upgrade failing systems and maintain existing water treatment facilities. Getting government leaders to act requires organization. That means citizens taking action to create pressure on government regulators to do the right thing, find the money needed, and put in place sound water delivery and treatment systems.