|Gary Ball, editor of the weekly Mountain Citizen, has been reporting on water issues in Martin County for nearly two decades, prompting the state to open the first investigation into the local water district. (Photo: Rich-Joseph Facun for NPR)|
Kat Lonsdorf of NPR reports, "Americans across the country, from Maynard's home in rural Appalachia to urban areas like Flint, Mich., or Compton, Calif., are facing a lack of clean, reliable drinking water. At the heart of the problem is a water system in crisis: aging, crumbling infrastructure and a lack of funds to pay for upgrading it. On top of that, about 50 percent of water utilities — serving about 12 percent of the population — are privately owned. This complicated mix of public and private ownership often confounds efforts to mandate improvements or levy penalties, even if customers complain of poor water quality or mismanagement."
|Martin County, Kentucky (Wikipedia map)|
Appalachian Citizens' Law Center attorney Mary Cromer told NPR, "This isn't just confined to Appalachia. We have dilapidated infrastructure all over this country. And so, if you're going to have rural areas that are going to survive, much less thrive, you've got to pay attention to these critical infrastructure needs." And health is an issue, too; U.S. News and World Report ranked the county the nation's worst predominantly white county in health performance, citing water as one reason.