Can You Imagine a Day Without Water?

Ken Jenkins and Sophie James headshotsOctober 20, 2022
by Ken Jenkins, Chief Water Resource Sustainability Officer
and Sophie James, Chief Water Quality Officer

This past year, dozens of communities across the United States have experienced devastating impacts to their water supply, as climate-driven weather extremes pushed infrastructure and water sources to their limits. From intense storms and weather patterns to drought and aging infrastructure, communities have gone days, weeks, or even months without access to clean water. Imagine a Day Without Water, recognized today, directs national attention to the critical role water infrastructure and investment play in our everyday lives and promotes solutions to ensure everyone has access to a safe and reliable water supply.

But for many Americans, living a day without water is shifting closer to a reality. Over the summer, state auditors revealed that nearly 1 million Californians face long-term health issues from unsafe drinking water as local water systems fail to meet basic quality standards. Many of these failing systems serve low-income communities, which must now contend with the extra cost of buying expensive bottled water with which to drink and cook.

Given the already limited water supply in the state, maintaining and investing in water infrastructure is critical. But, drastic weather patterns are not only exacerbating our current drought, they are also posing immediate risks to the quality of the water supply.

When faced with climate-change fueled natural disasters, our priority is—of course—the immediate physical threat. Once the dust settles, however, we must also consider the long-term effects. Wildfires can rip through whole communities within days, but their after-effects can transform our ecosystem’s composition and linger in the burnt landscape for decades. Extended and intense heat waves not only dry out our rivers and lakes, but the warmer waters create a thriving breeding ground for bacteria and pollutants.

At Cal Water, ensuring all of our customers have access to a safe and reliable water supply is our highest priority—and we’ve been preparing for and adapting to these climate-driven threats to our water sources and quality.

Beyond proactively treating and protecting our water supply, Cal Water’s water quality experts regularly share insights from our exhaustive quality assurance program with regulators and policymakers to provide a clear understanding of the impact existing and emerging contaminants can have on the water supply.

We also recognize that maintaining and upgrading infrastructure are essential to providing safe, clean drinking water to our communities. We focus on proactively protecting our water systems ahead of failure by investing millions of dollars into wells, pumps, treatment plants, pipes, and other infrastructure to ensure we always provide high-quality water.

There can be no room for complacency when it comes to water supplies and water quality, and Imagine A Day Without Water reminds us all of the responsibility we share in safeguarding our water systems. Access to clean water is a basic human need that should be protected and upheld to the highest standard. And at Cal Water, we remain committed to raising the bar for what it means to have access to water that is safe, clean, reliable, and affordable.