Presidential Candidates: Will You Commit to Clean Water?


Hamilton Dam on the Flint River | George Thomas [flickr CC]Hamilton Dam on the Flint River | George Thomas [flickr CC]

The presidential debates next week in Michigan will shine the spotlight on our nation’s clean water crisis. The Republican debate is in Detroit on March 3 and the Democratic debate is in Flint on March 6.

Against the backdrop of the ongoing health crisis in Flint, American Rivers believes $1 trillion is needed to ensure 21st century water infrastructure and healthy rivers nationwide. We are calling on each presidential candidate to commit to ensuring every American has access to clean drinking water.

We have the following three questions for the candidates:

Our nation’s clean water crisis: Three critical questions for the next President

  • President Roosevelt pulled America out of the Great Depression with the New Deal. President Eisenhower created the interstate highway system. Presidents Kennedy and Johnson got us to the moon. Now, as the tragic situation in Flint illustrates, we need an effort of similar scale and vision for clean water. Rivers are the source of drinking water for two out of three Americans. What is your plan to harness American resources and ingenuity to ensure healthy rivers and safe drinking water for all?
  • The Clean Water Act of 1972 was supposed to guarantee all of the nation’s rivers are swimmable and fishable. But sadly, that has yet to be achieved. The Environmental Protection Agency has found that 44 percent of assessed waterways are too polluted for fishing or swimming, and many communities including Flint lack access to safe drinking water. If elected, what will you do to ensure that the Clean Water Act’s promise is fulfilled during your Presidency?
  • The American Society of Civil Engineers gives our nation’s water infrastructure, including water treatment systems and dams, a D grade in its “Report Card on the Nation’s Infrastructure”. Will you commit the resources necessary to significantly improve that grade by the end of your first term in office?

“The crisis in Flint is a stark reminder of the critical importance of clean water supplies to our health and our communities. The disaster in Flint comes on the heels of other high-profile water crises – the mining waste spill in Colorado’s Animas River, the drinking water ban in Toledo, Ohio, and the chemical spill in West Virginia’s Elk River. Flint is not an outlier. Communities across the U.S. face similar threats. Americans are wondering if their communities and water supplies are next,” said Bob Irvin, President of American Rivers.

“Our country is facing a clean water crisis. Modernizing our water infrastructure and investing in healthy rivers – our most important source of drinking water – must go hand-in-hand. Our health, economy and future are all at stake,” he said.

American Rivers is challenging the presidential candidates from both parties to embrace these goals and commit to an unprecedented national investment in clean water.

Establishing a Clean Water Trust Fund would provide consistent funding to address our water infrastructure problems. This trust fund will protect and restore our rivers and bring our water infrastructure into the 21st century. An investment of $1 trillion in clean water would pay dividends for generations to come. By comparison, our nation spent $1.7 trillion on the Iraq war.

“For about 35 cents per person per day, spread over 25 years, we can secure clean water in cities and towns across America. What parent wouldn’t spend 35 cents a day, less than the cost of a daily cup of coffee, to ensure the health and well-being of their child?” said Irvin.

Tweet this story:

We have 3 critical questions for the next President. Will they step up? http://bit.ly/1Qdf0Ch #flint #watercrisis #protectcleanwater [Click to tweet this]

Will the 2016 Presidential Candidates #protectcleanwater for every American? http://bit.ly/1Qdf0Ch #flint #watercrisis [Click to tweet this]

If elected, what will the Presidential candidates do to ensure the #CleanWater Act’s promise is fulfilled? #flint [Click to tweet this]

Which of the presidential candidates would commit to improving our nation’s water infrastructure? @ASCETweets gave water a D. [Click to tweet this]