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Call for Federal Action to Prevent a U.S. Water Crisis

10,829 signatures toward our 30,000 Goal

36.10% Complete

Sponsor: The Rainforest Site

Over two million people lack basic indoor plumbing in one of the wealthiest countries on earth. Take action to ensure that everyone has access to clean water and adequate sanitation!


The United States is facing a growing water crisis that is jeopardizing the health of U.S. residents and the country's surface, ground, and well water. The recent derailment of a train loaded with toxic chemicals in Ohio1, which released and burned vinyl chloride2, a known cancer-causing compound, killed thousands of fish in nearby streams3.

The lack of access to clean drinking water, sanitary bathrooms, and treated wastewater is an ongoing emergency for many parts of the U.S.4 Communities across the country are facing major threats to their clean water supply, and these issues disproportionately affect indigenous, less educated, older, and poorer communities.

The American Society of Civil Engineering's 2021 Report Card for America's Infrastructure assigned a dismal D+ grade to the country's more than 16,000 wastewater treatment plants, a significant fraction of which have reached or exceeded their design capacities5. The U.S. drinking water infrastructure earned only a marginally better rating, with a C-grade6.

Extreme weather events, worsened by global warming, are exacerbating infrastructure failures, and the cost of failing to update the country's aging and deteriorating drinking water and wastewater infrastructure could lead to trillions lost in preventable diseases, higher medical costs, lost productivity, and environmental pollution.

There is also a disproportionate impact of environmental racism on communities of color7. These communities require sustained attention, investment, and action to reverse the decades of damage. Federal action is beginning to address the issue. Nearly $800 million in federal funds have been earmarked for water projects in Jackson8. The Closing America's Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative, piloted in Lowndes County, will tackle ten other underserved communities where residents lack basic wastewater management9. The federal Inflation Reduction Act also provided $550 million for water systems in disadvantaged communities10.

Access to clean water and adequate sanitation is a human right, and it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that this right is upheld. Help us call on the Environmental Protection Agency to take immediate action to address these issues by implementing policies that will ensure access to clean water and wastewater management throughout the country.

Sign the petition and protect Americans, wildlife, and the environment from the impending clean water crisis!

More on this issue:

  1. United States Environmental Protection Agency, "TRAIN 32N - EAST PALESTINE."
  2. National Cancer Institute (3 November 2022), "Vinyl Chloride."
  3. Ian Cross, Tara Morgan, News 5 Cleveland (15 February 2023), "ODNR estimates 3,500 fish killed by East Palestine train derailment, spill."
  4. DigDeep (2022), "Closing The Water Access Gap In The US: An Action Plan."
  5. J. Tom Mueller & Stephen Gasteyer, Nature Communications (22 June 2021), "The widespread and unjust drinking water and clean water crisis in the United States."
  6. Report Card for America's Infrastructure, American Society of Civil Engineers (2021), "Drinking Water."
  7. Michael Gochfeld, MD and Joanna Burger, PhD, American Journal of Public Health (December 2011), "Disproportionate Exposures in Environmental Justice and Other Populations: The Importance of Outliers."
  8. Kayode Crown, Mississippi Free Press (6 January 2023), "‘Massive Contribution’: Jackson Receiving $795 Million For Water Repairs."
  9. United States Environmental Protection Agency, United States Food and Drug Administration, "Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative."
  10. Jeremy Wolfe, WaterWorld (16 August 2022), "President signs Inflation Reduction Act into law."
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The Petition:

To the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency,

We, the undersigned, are writing to demand immediate action to address the impending clean water crisis facing Americans, wildlife, and the environment. The recent derailment of a train loaded with toxic chemicals in East Palestine, Ohio, resulting in the death of thousands of fish in nearby streams, is just one of many environmental catastrophes contributing to the growing concern about the impact on the health of U.S. residents and the country's surface, ground, and well water.

Shocking statistics have emerged from the "Imagine a Day Without Water" campaign, revealing that over two million people lack basic indoor plumbing in one of the wealthiest countries on earth. The lack of access to clean drinking water, sanitary bathrooms, and treated wastewater is an ongoing emergency for many parts of the U.S. In rural and urban communities throughout the country, water tainted by pollutants, woefully inadequate sewage treatment, and a lack of restrooms have laid bare the legacy of neglect.

The problem is particularly acute in rural areas, where many residents lack means of wastewater treatment. Researchers found that over one-third of 55 stool samples collected from county residents tested positive for hookworms, a parasite typically associated with poor sanitation in developing countries.

Communities across the United States are facing major threats to their clean water supply, and without prompt and effective action, the gaps in the U.S. water system will continue to widen.

The 2021 Report Card for America's Infrastructure assigned a dismal D+ grade to the country's more than 16,000 wastewater treatment plants, a significant fraction of which have reached or exceeded their design capacities. This report should serve as a call to action to invest in wastewater infrastructure, implement stricter regulations, and provide funding to ensure that all communities have access to clean water and effective wastewater treatment.

We believe that access to clean water and adequate sanitation is a human right, and it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that this right is upheld. We urge you to take immediate action to protect Americans, wildlife, and the environment from the impending clean water crisis.

Sincerely,

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Signatures: