In an emotional testimony before a Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water and Wildlife hearing, Mike Frazee shared what it is like to live in America with no access to safe drinking water. The resident of rural northwest Arkansas highlighted the significance of the Water Systems Council in helping change that.
Frazee’s family lacked access to safe drinking water for decades before they were provided with a low interest loan through the Water Systems Council's Water Well Trust to drill a water well in 2014. He recently testified during the subcommittee's hearing on "Innovative Financing and Funding: Addressing America's Crumbling Water Infrastructure."
During his introduction of Frazee, Subcommittee Chairman John Boozman (R-AR) noted, "Mr. Frazee has lived in Rogers Arkansas since 1990. Since moving to Rogers to be closer to his family, he has not had running water. In 2014, Mr. Frazee's mother contacted my office and we discussed the problem her community was facing.”
Boozman said he was surprised to hear that lack of running and clean drinking water was still a problem in the U.S., let alone in his home state. After talking to Frazee’s wife, he connected her with the Water Systems Council, which drilled wells that brought fresh drinking water directly to their home, as well as the homes of her neighbors.
The Environmental Protection Agency's most recent Needs Survey placed the shortfall in drinking water infrastructure funding for small communities (3,300 or fewer persons) at $64.5 billion. There are 52,000 community water systems in the U.S., of which 41,801 are small community water systems, and 27,500 of those serve populations of fewer than 500 people.
"Usually when we imagine life without clean and efficient drinking water and wastewater, we picture communities that do not resemble our own. We picture far off countries that do not have all of the blessings America has. Sadly, this cannot be further from the truth," Sen. Boozman said. "Currently, an estimated 1.7 million Americans live without access to clean, running drinking water in their homes. There are tremendous infrastructure needs in rural America. We are in a position to address this problem. We have an Administration that has made infrastructure investment a top priority, coupled with bipartisan support in both the Senate and House. We have an incredible opportunity to work across the aisle and get back on track to making America's water infrastructure the best in the world."
The Water Systems Council (WSC) was the sole drinking water organization invited to testify before the U.S. Senate on water wells as a cost-effective solution to America's rural water infrastructure crisis. WSC established the Water Well Trust in 2010 and it continues to be the only national nonprofit organization helping Americans get access to a clean, safe water supply. To date, the Water Well Trust has completed water well projects in Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Texas and has pending projects in Georgia, New York and South Carolina. For more information, visit www.watersystemscouncil.org and www.waterwelltrust.org.