More than 2 million people in the U.S. lack running water and basic indoor plumbing, according to a new report by the human-rights nonprofit DigDeep and the nonprofit U.S. Water Alliance — and race and poverty are key determinants of who has access to clean water and sanitation.
Native Americans are 19 times more likely to lack indoor plumbing than their white counterparts, putting them in the worst spot of any group, and African-American and Latinx households lack indoor plumbing at almost twice the rate of white households, the report found.
“The United States is home to some of the most reliable water and wastewater systems on earth, and many Americans believe access is universal,” the authors wrote. “But in fact, millions of the most vulnerable people in the country — low-income people in rural areas, people of color, tribal communities, immigrants — have fallen through the cracks.”
Lacking access to safe water and sanitation “makes it difficult to stay healthy, earn a living, go to school, and care for a family,” they added.
The report’s analysis drew upon data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Given that survey’s limitations — it doesn’t ask about wastewater services or about the affordability or reliability of water service, the authors said — they also conducted qualitative research on a handful of regions (the Navajo Nation, California’s Central Valley, the Texas colonias, Appalachia, Puerto Rico and the rural South) that struggle with adequate water and sanitation access.
Lacking access to reliable and safe running water; a tap, shower and toilet at home; and a wastewater removal and treatment system ’makes it difficult to stay healthy, earn a living, go to school, and care for a family,’ the authors said.
SOURCE: Market Watch, Meera Jagannathan