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by Miah Huerta
Founder and CEO of OriginClear, and leader in the self-reliant water revolution, Riggs Eckelberry, explains the strained relationship between water and low-income communities that is causing socioeconomic disparity in America. “The further you are from where water is resold, the more you pay,” he says.
This is true for many individuals who are forced to spend their monthly income and travel far distances for water that is unreliable and unsafe to consume. “The more that water goes through resellers, the higher the cost. Unfortunately, lower-income neighborhoods are very often the areas furthest from the central systems, paying the most for the worst quality water,” he shares. Pairing high rates and low-quality resources, water inequality is an issue in America that demands immediate action for the well-being of its citizens,
With quality remaining a hot topic of conversation, water-related issues among neglected communities are seen and happen all too often. “Very recently in Jackson, Mississippi, the water ran brown. Why? Well, the water infrastructure has been neglected at least since 1960, and it's gotten worse and worse. That’s exactly what happened in Compton, California” he explains. This ongoing problem of failing water systems stems from decaying central infrastructure and a lack of funding for low-income neighborhoods, particularly among people of color and Latino communities. “We’ve seen a breakdown in central infrastructure for our 150,000 plus water systems in America. We had a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and they only allocated $55 Billion to water for the entire nation — yet we fall behind by $75 billion annually. It’s a scandal.”