In Chicago, we’re incredibly fortunate to live on the shores of Lake Michigan, with an ample supply of freshwater that has historically been the lifeblood of our region.
But not everybody has the same access to this water supply. According to the United Nations, two-thirds of the world’s population could be living under water-stressed conditions by 2025. Access to clean water is a right, and that access should not be affected by where a person lives, income or race.
That’s why I applaud Ald. Daniel La Spata’s Water for All ordinance, which would help ensure the availability of clean water to all Chicagoans, regardless of income status. The ordinance permanently bans water shut-offs, exempts some low-income households from water payments and ensures Chicago’s water system will remain a public good.
Our water supply, an essential component for a healthy life, belongs to all of us. It benefits us all when our neighbors have clean water to drink and are able to practice good hygiene. Our region’s water must be clean, it must be affordable and it must be accessible to everyone in the city. But this isn't a view shared across the country.
In late 2020, the United States’ first water futures market was launched in California, letting banks bet on future water prices and availability. In response, my colleagues and I at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago passed a resolution this year affirming water and sanitation as basic human rights and guaranteeing that they will remain in the public trust.
The city now has the opportunity to make the same commitment. I encourage the Lightfoot administration to support this ordinance, and I encourage the City Council to pass it.
Mariyana Spyropoulos, commissioner, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago