DRINKING WATER

Catalyst is committed to ensuring all Virginians have equitable access to safe, trusted, affordable, fluoridated water, and that it's their beverage of choice.

It Started with Fluoride

Virginia Health Catalyst wants everyone in the commonwealth to be as healthy as possible. Drinking clean and safe water is essential to being healthy. In the oral health community, we know that drinking tap water that contains the proper amount of fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral, can reduce cavities in children and adults and keep teeth strong.

Community water fluoridation (CWF) is an effective and equitable way to make properly fluoridated water available to as many people as possible. Populations across the country have been enjoying the oral health benefits of CWF for over 75 years, saving health care costs for both families and the health care system.

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Learn more about CWF

Catalyst and local partners are working to advocate for and protect CWF in Virginia. See more about this work, and how to get involved.

Water Equity Issues

Most Virginians have access to clean water and may not think twice about the water coming out of their tap. But that isn’t the reality for everyone.

See how safe water is an issue of health equity by exploring the topics in the circle on the right.

These challenges of safety, affordability, and access to resources disproportionately affect communities of color and low-income individuals.

The US Water Alliance highlighted these issues in more detail, and identified promising practices that have emerged to make water systems more equitable; read the report here. 

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TRUST

Water crises, like the one in Flint, MI, create distrust among community members in the safety of their tap water and in the local government. This distrust leads to purchasing expensive alternatives to tap water, like bottles of water or sugar-sweetened beverages.

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INFRASTRUCTURE

Some Virginians don't have clean water, or running water at all, in their homes because their building uses aging water pipes in need of repair and maintenance. These old pipes could lead to discolored, bad tasting, or unsafe drinking water.

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AFFORDABILITY

Water bills can be expensive, especially in areas with fewer people, since the repair and maintenance of the water system is largely funded by utility payments. 

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PRIVATE WELLS

About 1 in 5 Virginians, mostly in rural areas, rely on water from a private well. Wells are not regulated like public water systems, and could be contaminated without the knowledge of the owner.

Tip of the Iceberg

Read articles, posts, and views from Catalyst staff, Board, and partners about water and water equity in Virginia.

Water Equity Taskforce

While Virginia legislators have declared that water is a human right, inequities persist across all spheres of the water sector – access, cost, safety, and education.

Catalyst convenes the Water Equity Taskforce (WET), the only statewide group working to address these challenges from a public health lens. WET is a cross-sector group of invested stakeholders, working to ensure water in Virginia is equitably accessible, safe, trusted, and fluoridated, and that people want to drink it. The group identifies strategies to:

  • Address access issues related to race and income inequities;
  • Improve water literacy;
  • Fund water systems and infrastructure; and,
  • Encourage water consumption.

Water equity means all individuals have equal and fair access to quality drinking water that they can trust.

WET Recommendations

The Water Equity Taskforce is developing recommendations to guide the future work of this group. Informed by partner expertise, previous water projects, policy research, and data, the WET members will develop concrete, actionable next steps through a collaborative process with input from partners. These recommendations will include:

  • Policy change needs
  • The unique challenges for both public and private water
  • State leadership and administration partnerships
  • Technology updates
  • Data improvements
  • And more!

Get Involved!

If you're interested in learning more about water equity or joining the WET, contact Chloe Van Zandt for more information.