The holidays are a time to pause and reflect on the things that we are thankful for—our family, friends and neighbors, our pets, our homes, good health and good fortune, and the meals before us. This week, many of us will gather around the table and give thanks for the things and the people that enrich and brighten our lives every day, especially when we might overlook them.
But one of the most important things that so many of us are grateful for is something seldom mentioned at Thanksgiving dinner: water. It’s something so basic and so often taken for granted. We don’t think twice about it. For most of us, we never doubt that water will come out of the faucet or the shower head. We don’t need to worry about what happens when we flush the toilet, because our invisible water infrastructure carries that burden for us.
It rarely occurs to us that the very things for which we are thankful—our families and friends, our pets, our homes, our good health—could not exist without water. Water nourishes our bodies daily and allows us to live healthy lives. It allows us to cook food to feed ourselves, our families, and our pets. All of the food we will enjoy at Thanksgiving dinner requires water to be grown, processed, and stored. Wastewater systems protect our public health and keep our environment clean. The list of entities that need water to survive, operate, and thrive is overwhelming—it would be exhausting to attempt to identify all of the multifaceted purposes and roles of water.
We have plenty to be thankful for right below our feet. Yet, many communities in the United States face water challenges from poor infrastructure, too much or too little water, and in some cases, limited or no access to safe drinking water. Which is why, now more than ever, we must work to secure a sustainable water future for all.
As we gather with those we love to remind ourselves of all the things for which we are grateful, let us not forget the things that we often overlook, like our water and water infrastructure, because they form the backbone of everything we’re thankful for.