Water & Health Advisory Council
Chad Seidel
Our nation’s drinking water infrastructure is in desperate need of attention. Last year, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave our water system a C- and their economic study found that the annual drinking water and wastewater investment gap will eventually grow to $434 billion by 2029. The fact is that our nation’s drinking water infrastructure requires a massive investment.

President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act includes $50 billion for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure improvements. This funding is significant, and the list of drinking water infrastructure needs is extensive. Water systems need resources to hire and train personnel, maintain operations, replace and service aging pipes, and meet regulatory drinking water standards. With limited resources, there are important decisions to be made at the federal, local and state levels.

We must ensure government funds are distributed and spent on the most pressing issues that address the greatest public health risks. These taxpayer dollars must be carefully allocated using a science-based, risk- and cost-benefit analysis of drinking water issues. It’s not always beneficial to public health nor economically viable to address every potential or new water threat. Sometimes the greatest risk to water is the oldest issue, like aged drinking water pipes. It’s incumbent on our drinking water utilities and public health departments to prioritize the highest risk in public health threats. Applying a risk- and cost-benefit approach compares the range of pressing issues and helps determine the most beneficial public health investment.

Fortunately, this cost and risk-benefit analysis is woven into drinking water laws designed to protect our water supply. The Safe Drinking Water Act requires that regulations for our drinking water systems demonstrate a “meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction.” Since the Act was passed, proposed drinking water rules and regulations have been evaluated against this “meaningful” standard, and those that met it were set in motion.

Chad Seidel, Ph.D., P.E.
President, Corona Environmental Consulting & Council member
Water Advisory Insights
AWWA SOURCE Magazine: Does Regulating PFAS Represent a Meaningful Opportunity for Health Risk Reduction in Drinking Water?
Council member Chad Seidel’s research was featured in the Winter 2022 issue of American Water Works Association’s Source Magazine. Chad, along with his co-authors Katherine Alfredo and Amlan Ghosh, recently released a peer-reviewed analysis that sets a new way for policymakers to analyze toxic contaminants throughout the US.
Member Blog: Council Statement on the Drinking Water State Revolving Funds
The Water & Health Advisory Council strongly believes that states must have greater leeway over how drinking water revolving fund dollars are spent. States should determine how and where these funds will achieve the public health goals of the SDWA. Drinking water utility managers and water district leaders have the greatest insights on local challenges and must be given the discretion to set priorities within the SDWA’s objectives.
Water News
From emergency climate-induced weather conditions to ongoing aging infrastructure needs, our nation's water supply is at risk. We must prioritize what best protects public health for the greatest number of people.
Washington Post: Climate-driven flooding poses well water contamination risks
Though estimates vary, roughly 53 million U.S. residents — about 17% of the population — rely on private wells, according to a study conducted in part by Environmental Protection Agency researchers. Most live in rural areas. But others are in subdivisions near fast-growing metro regions or otherwise beyond the reach of public water pipes. While many private wells provide safe water, the absence of regulation and treatment afforded by larger municipal systems may expose some users to health risks, from bacteria and viruses to chemicals and lead, studies have found.
AZ Central: Will Colorado River shortages limit water use? Arizona cities seek 'culture change' first
Phoenix has achieved per-capita reductions in water use similar to those in Las Vegas and Los Angeles without spending millions on rebates or enforcement, said Kathryn Sorensen, director of research at Arizona State University’s Kyl Center for Water Policy and a former director of the city’s water department. “The cities have focused on culture change — getting people to understand that wise water use in the desert is always necessary,” Sorensen said, “not just when reservoir levels are low.”
Washington Post: The Colorado River is in crisis, and it's getting worse every day
It is a powerhouse: a 1,450-mile waterway that stretches from the Rocky Mountains to the Sea of Cortez, serving 40 million people in seven U.S. states, 30 federally recognized tribes and Mexico. It hydrates 5 million acres of agricultural land and provides critical habitat for rare fish, birds and plants. But the Colorado’s water was overpromised when it was first allocated a century ago. Demand in the fast-growing Southwest exceeds supply, and it is growing even as supply drops amid a climate change-driven megadrought and rising temperatures. States and cities are now scrambling to forestall the gravest impacts to growth, farming, drinking water and electricity, while also aiming to protect their own interests.
Associated Press: Harris calls water security a foreign policy priority
Vice President Kamala Harris said Wednesday the U.S. is safer if people in other countries have sufficient water to drink, grow food and safely dispose of sewage, emphasizing that water access is a foreign policy priority. The Biden administration said it will support investments in water infrastructure abroad and provide technical expertise to help other countries manage their water resources. More than two billion people around the world live in “water stressed” countries where demand for water exceeds supplies, the World Health Organization estimates. Harris said that reality will have a “profound impact on America’s interests around the globe.”
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