Some say that the drinking water infrastructure in the United States is considered an “invisible utility.” But various factors from the impact of climate change to water crises, such as the one in Flint, Michigan, are causing people to think about water in a new way.
To measure exactly how our outlook, as a country, is changing, the company I work for, Nestlé Waters North America, commissioned a study, “Perspectives on America’s Water,” which surveyed nearly 7,000 U.S. adults about their views on water-related topics. The study is a first-of-its-kind look into the changing points of view around our water supply.
What we found is a remarkable sense of urgency. Two in three Americans believe that their own community’s clean drinking water is at risk, not just from infrastructure distress, but also from severe drought and other climate-related issues.
Why conduct a study like this? Because the time is now for more urgent conversations and innovations to improve our nation’s water supply. And it’s our commitment as the nation’s leading bottled water company to play an active role in communities across the country. Our ability to operate in communities depends directly on the extent to which we understand and are sensitive to their concerns and the actions we take to create shared value.
We’ve been having conversations about water and resources on a local level for more than 30 years. But now is the time to have the conversation on a national level. That is why I am so excited to be at the Aspen Ideas Festival this year. We can use the insights gathered from our experience as well as what we’ve heard through our study, to start meaningful conversations with potential partners and other stakeholders – from governments to environmental groups and the private sector — to address these issues head on.
My colleague Nelson Switzer, who is our Chief Sustainability Officer at Nestlé Waters North America, will be participating in a panel discussion later this week “Abundance for All? Clean Water Access in America” about the challenges facing our nation’s water system. Nelson and I are both excited to hear how the conversation evolves — and see how policy, technology, investment and community action will shape the future of one of our most critical natural resources.
When you improve access to clean, safe drinking water, communities prosper. Americans are clearly aware that their once “invisible utility” is now very visible indeed – and the time to act is now.