Plumbing Equity: Bridging the Gap in Clean Water Access in America

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, approximately 2.2 billion people worldwide lack access to safely managed drinking water services. In the United States, while access to clean water is more widespread compared to many developing countries, disparities persist within communities.

In a country where access to clean water is often taken for granted, the reality is starkly different for many marginalized communities. While modern plumbing systems have revolutionized sanitation and hygiene standards, disparities in access persist, particularly in low-income areas and communities of color. Plumbing, once seen merely as a utility, is increasingly recognized as a fundamental human right, essential for public health, economic prosperity, and social equity.

The Scope of the Plumbing Equity Challenge at Home

According to the US Water Alliance, more than 2 million Americans still lack access to indoor plumbing, with Native American reservations, rural communities, and urban neighborhoods disproportionately affected. This is up from 1.6 million people reported by the EPA in 2014.

The consequences of inadequate infrastructure extend far beyond inconvenience; they pose serious risks to public health and exacerbate existing social inequalities. Lack of access to clean water and sanitation facilities contributes to the spread of waterborne diseases, such as cholera and dysentery, which often hit underserved communities the hardest.

Dan Edelman, owner of, succinctly captures this sentiment, stating, “Everyone deserves access to clean water and proper sanitation.” This simple yet powerful statement encapsulates the urgent need to view this age-old problem with a new lens.

As a leader in the commercial and residential plumbing industry with over 70 years of experience, the Edelman family knows a thing or two about the ins and outs of plumbing. Edelman continues that while investments in upgrading aging pipes, expanding access to public utilities, and implementing policies are a start, structural investment alone is not sufficient to bridge the gap when it comes to plumbing equity.

Measurable Progress Requires a Two-Pronged Approach

The truth is, that progress requires participation from both the public and private sectors to tangibly address the root causes of disparities, including systemic racism, economic inequality, and environmental injustice. 

Community engagement and grassroots advocacy are essential for ensuring that the voices of marginalized communities are heard and their needs are prioritized in decision-making processes. Nonprofit organizations, such as DigDeep, are working to address water poverty in underserved communities through innovative solutions and community-led development projects.

Initiatives like the Water Equity and Climate Resilience Caucus bring together stakeholders from across sectors to develop strategies for advancing water equity and building resilience to climate change.

On the other side, businesses and private sector actors also have a crucial role to play as well. Forward-thinking companies in the plumbing industry can leverage their expertise and resources to support community-based initiatives, provide pro bono services, and advocate for policies that promote equitable access to clean water and sanitation. Collaboration between government, civil society, and the private sector is essential for achieving meaningful and sustainable change.

In reality, it’s not all doom and gloom, but there is still so much work to be done.

As communities confront the pressing challenges of climate change, economic uncertainty, and social inequality, plumbing equity must remain a priority on the national agenda. Ensuring access to clean water and sanitation is not only a moral imperative but also a smart investment in public health, economic prosperity, and social cohesion. By working together and committing to equitable and sustainable solutions, a better future can exist where every person has access to the basic necessities of life – including clean water and adequate plumbing.

Contact Info:
Name: Dan Edelman
Email: Send Email
Organization: NYDIRECT

Release ID: 89126642

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