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Clean and plentiful water provides the foundation for prosperous communities. We rely on clean water to survive, yet right now we are heading towards a water crisis. Changing climate patterns are threatening lakes and rivers, and key sources that we tap for drinking water are being overdrawn or tainted with pollution. NRDC experts are helping to secure safe and sufficient water for people and the environment by:

•    Promoting water efficiency strategies to help decrease the amount of water wasted;
•    Protecting our water from pollution by defending the Clean Water Act and advocating for solutions like green infrastructure;
•    Helping prepare cities, counties and states for water-related challenges they will face as a result of climate change; and
•    Ensuring that waterways have enough water to support vibrant aquatic ecosystems.

Dirty water is the world’s biggest health risk, and continues to threaten both quality of life and public health in the United States. When water from rain and melting snow runs off roofs and roads into our rivers, it picks up toxic chemicals, dirt, trash and disease-carrying organisms along the way. Many of our water resources also lack basic protections, making them vulnerable to pollution from factory farms, industrial plants, and activities like fracking. This can lead to drinking water contamination, habitat degradation and beach closures. NRDC is working to protect our water from pollution by:

•    Drawing on existing protections in the Clean Water Act, and working to ensure that the law’s pollution control programs apply to all important waterways, including headwater streams and wetlands, which provide drinking water for 117 million Americans;
•    Improving protections to reduce pollutants like bacteria and viruses, which threaten Americans’ health and well being; and
•    Establishing new pollution limits for top problem areas, such as sources of runoff and sewage overflows.

Despite the many existing pressures on our water resources, there are cost-effective solutions that will allow us to transform our relationship with water. To address increasing water scarcity in many places in the nation, NRDC is working to promote investments and policies that increase water use efficiency and decrease water waste.

•    Adopting sensible standards for efficient appliances, buildings, and irrigation;
•    Supporting cost-effective investments by utilities to help customers save water; and
•    Improving pricing structures to save both water and money.

From more severe and frequent droughts to unprecedented flooding, many of the most profound and immediate impacts of climate change will relate to water. More than one-third of all counties in the lower 48 states will face higher risks of water shortages by mid-century as a result of global warming. Other impacts will include sea level rise, saltwater intrusion, harm to fisheries and more frequent and intense storm events. To help communities prepare, NRDC is creating tools that help the public and government officials to better understand and anticipate the water-related impacts of climate change at a state, county, and city level. We also promote ways to reduce wasted energy resulting from inefficient water collection, treatment and distribution.


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