This editorial letter originally appeared in WQP October 2020 issue as "Can You Imagine?"
In my editorial letter last month, I touched briefly on the relationship between water access and public health, particularly in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. This complex relationship is not easy to define and can be challenging to grasp for those of us not facing immediate water insecurity.
Every October, in conjunction with Imagine a Day Without Water organized by the Value of Water Campaign, I take time to reflect on the importance of water and its role in my own life. I pause and try to grasp what it would be like to live in a world without innumerable drops of water to hydrate myself, clean my home, nourish the food I eat, protect my community from fires or...wash my hands. Imagining isn’t enough. How can you imagine the unimaginable?
Yet, a world without water access — notably clean water access — is a reality for many people. And, compounding on that reality in recent months, lack of water access has significantly contributed to increases in positive cases of COVID-19. One example of this relationship in action is in the Navajo Nation, a region where an estimated 30% of residents do not have access to running water. During the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, the Navajo Nation experienced infection rates that were among the highest per capita in the U.S.
My imagining is no longer enough, nor was it ever, without greater understanding and wider perspectives. Over the past few months, I’ve begun initiating conversations with water industry leaders fighting for change. In the Checking In video series, I’ve chatted with professionals making waves of change (check out episodes 11, 12 and 17 at bit.ly/wqp-checking-in). Additionally, the Talking Under Water podcast, which I co-host with editors from WQP sister publications Water & Wastes Digest and Storm Water Solutions, is committed to sharing stories and elevating perspectives facing and fighting these challenges throughout the month of October.
I encourage you to engage with this coverage, ask questions and challenge your own perspective. We all have to start somewhere. Can you imagine a world in which we are all stakeholders and partners in addressing and eradicating water access obstacles?