Art of the Possible: Why Water Should be the Biden Administration’s Top Environmental Priority

Art of the Possible: Why Water Should be the Biden Administration’s Top Environmental Priority

The Importance of Water to Everyone Makes Water a Good Topic for the Biden Administration’s Top Environmental Priority

Everyone agrees on the importance of water – it is literally impossible for all life to survive without it. As it turns out, it’s important for most businesses and industries too, and agriculture is the number one water user in many areas of the country.

As President-Elect Biden takes office, he must consider how to best approach tackling water, climate change, energy and a host of other issues that impact our health as well as the health of the planet and our business sector.

Associate Professor Manny Teodoro, from the La Follette School of Public Affairs, University of Wisconsin, Madison has an idea. Instead of focusing on climate change, which is filled with controversy both inside and outside of the Beltway, why not focus on water? Everyone needs clean, abundant water to survive and thrive – that’s not controversial. In fact, Teodoro even created his version of the electoral map of the United States, with a focus on water.

Manny Teodoro’s Water Electoral Map

Look at that! It turns out that water wins the popular vote and the electoral college. That’s because, as Teodoro puts it, “…radical polarization hasn’t yet contaminated our most essential resource. Unlike climate threats, where risks seem distant and causal linkages uncertain, risks to water quality are immediate, the causes known and the effects tangible.”

Water isn’t a partisan issue. Water quality and availability issues affect cities, suburbs and rural areas alike. In fact, it’s often worse for the rural areas because there is a persistent lack of resources available to fix problems in spite of how important clean water is to our survival.

It’s an interesting strategy. If the President-Elect were to use water as a proxy for climate change, he could likely solve a lot of issues that affect both topics. For example, ensuring that there is enough water to meet the needs of agriculture could help cement the idea of controls on residential water use, especially outdoor use. This would push residents to explore more appropriate landscaping methods that tolerate periods of both drought and deluge – the two nasty faces of the climate change beast taking over our world.

Teodoro might be on to something.

[Manny Teodoro]