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🔬 "The $8 Billion Cost of No Water"


Photo by Gyan Shahane / Unsplash

Host: Travis Loop
Guest: George McGraw | Founder & CEO | DigDeep
Category: 🔬 Research | Cost Of No Water

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Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[0:26] TL: “A new report finds that allowing millions of Americans to live without running water or a toilet at home is costing the US economy over 8.5 billion dollars a year. The biggest impacts to the GDP come from lost productivity, time lost at work or school to access water, physical health impacts, water purchase costs, and mental health impacts.”

[2:54] GM: “2.2 million at least [lack running water or sanitation in the US]. When most people think of places without running water, […] a village in Sub Saharan Africa pops in their mind. But little did they know that these folks are living right here in the US in all 50 states. […] There are definitely some hot spots, […] like the US Mexico border region in Texas, Appalachia, some native reservations […] like the Navajo Nation, the Central Valley of California.”

[3:57] GM: “The crazy thing is that that number [of people without running water] is going up. […] We're seeing we're seeing a rise I think probably fueled by climate change and, and the breakdown of existing infrastructure that just hasn't been invested in so long.”

[5:00] GM: “The families that we work with at DigDeep […] were already really aware of consumer prices and fluctuations and things like inflation impact them the most, because they're already spending sometimes a third or a half of their monthly budget at home on water. And that's on packaged water at the store, that's on the gas or the vehicle wear and tear, the time that it takes them to go collect that water. So even a little fluctuation in the market has a big impact for these folks.”

[5:45] GM: “We found that the US economy is basically bleeding about 8.5 a billion dollars a year so this [water] gap remains open every year. And that equates to about $15,800 per household. And that number is modest, because it really only counts 1.57 million of that 2.2 [people without running water]. […] So the real number is probably much larger.”

[7:42] GM: “We estimate that just for the people in the water gap, this is causing 219,000 cases of waterborne disease a year. It's causing 39,000 cases of diabetes. It's causing 71,000 cases of mental health issues like acute depression or anxiety. All of these things have a price tag. […] A lot of the clients that we work with go to the store to buy bottled water, and they end up buying soda, either because it's more readily available or more aggressively marketed, sometimes it just seems more valuable for the dollar. And so we see huge instances of diabetes in these populations, which is leading to a high mortality rate to death from waterborne illness and diabetes. For folks living without a running […] we're looking at about 600 deaths a year, about two passenger planes full of people falling from the sky.

[12:02] GM: “Without access to water, and sanitation, […] we're losing something like 11 million school hours in the US for children a year. And that's impacting their later ability to graduate from high school and college, to get a higher paying job, to contribute to their family's bottom line and that causes intergenerational impacts.”

[14:54] GM: “The US economy stands to gain over $200 billion over the next 50 years if we can close this [water] gap completely. […] We put an action plan in this report. […] Definitely the most important of all of those recommendations is to dramatically increase federal funding for water and sanitation systems, especially targeted at closing this water gap. […] The water gap has what we call a wrong pockets problem in economics. There are a lot of people who stand to benefit from closing the water gap, […] but no one benefits enough to be incentivized to make that investment all by themselves. And when you have a problem like that, you need the federal government to come in and lead and guide that investment. And while we're looking at historic investment in infrastructure through the bipartisan infrastructure law, that money really was never designed to close the gap really, and a lot of these families were left out.”

Rating: 💧💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify | Google
🕰️ 23 min | 🗓️ 06/27/2022
✅ Time saved: 21 min

Additional Links:
Report: “Draining: The Economic Impact of America's Hidden Water Crisis” (DigDeep, 2022)

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