The Value of Water

How often do you think about your tap water? If you're like most, probably not often. And yet tap water delivers so many things that no other water can deliver. In fact, Americans tap into about 341 billion gallons of tap water every day. Total water use (both indoor and outdoor) in a typical single-family home is 101 gallons per capita per day.

Tap Water Delivers Public Health
The city's first obligation is to provide water that is safe for consumption. An estimated 3 million people die every year from preventable waterborne disease - water systems in North America allow us to drink from virtually any public tap with a high assurance of safety.
  • A safe water supply is critical to protecting the public health - the first obligation of all water suppliers. Without our modern water systems, diseases such as cholera and dysentery would be part of everyday life.
  • In Oak Forest, our drinking water is monitored for more than 100 contaminants and must meet close to 90 regulations for water safety and quality. Those water standards are among the world's most stringent.
  • The water coming out of your tap is tested every day! Tap water undergoes far more frequent testing than bottled water.
  • Small amounts of fluoride have been added to the water supply to help prevent tooth decay. Child cavity rates have been reduced by 20 to 40 percent where fluoridation has been implemented.
Tap Water Provides Fire Protection
A well-maintained water system is critical in protecting our community from the ever-present threat of fire.
  • Water flowing to fire hydrants and home faucets is transported by the same system of water mains, pumps and storage tanks.
  • A water system that provides reliable water at a high pressure and volume can be the difference between a manageable fire and an urban inferno. The ability to provide water for fire protection heavily influences home construction, location decisions and insurance rates.
  • Firefighters are the primary operators of fire hydrants, but the city's Water Department is responsible for maintaining the hydrants. That maintenance is supported through our water bills.
  • In 2004, U.S. fire departments responded to 1.55 million fires across the country.
Tap Water Supports Our Economy
A safe, reliable water supply is central to the economic success of our communities.
  • Tap water is critical to the day-to-day operations of the business community and to the viability of new commercial enterprises or residential developments.
  • From foods and beverages to toothpastes and perfumes, water is the primary ingredient in hundreds of thousands of everyday products.
  • Businesses must take into consideration the availability and quality of water when determining where to locate their offices or manufacturing facilities. The availability of water resources and service therefore has a profound effect on job creation. A scarcity of water resources can hold up multi-million dollar developments - commercial or residential - placing a severe strain on local economies.
  • An increasing number of communities are using recycled water for non-drinking purposes such as industrial cooling or irrigation.
Tap Water Increases Quality of Life
Tap water is more than a convenience; it is central to our everyday lives.
  • Any measure of a successful society's low mortality rates, economic diversity, productivity, public safety is in some way related to access to safe water.
  • Tap water is so intricately part of our lives that we can hardly imagine a day without it. Without tap water how would we rinse our produce, clean our dishes and clothes, water our plants and landscaping, and wash our cars? Where would we shower? How many businesses would have to suspend operations or relocate entirely? How would our institutions - from hospitals to firehouses to schools - function?