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Demand for water is rapidly increasing as supply dwindles

Limited access to clean water remains a struggle for millions of Americans. And lack of water access is expected to become an even greater problem in the coming years across the U.S. and around the world.

In West Virginia, many households in McDowell County rely on collecting water from fresh springs, which might freeze over in the winter or run dry in the summer. Bob McKinney is the Appalachia Water Project manager for DigDeep, a nonprofit that works to provide water to Americans who wouldn't otherwise have access. He says he estimates that about half of McDowell's population doesn't have reliable running water in their homes. 

Residents in parts of rural Appalachia without running water have to rely on resources like local creeks or abandoned mine shafts, where water can be dangerously dirty.BRITTANY APP

"We've had people come to the food banks to get food and they'll tell us they need access to clean drinking water because [they] haven't had water for two weeks," McKinney said. He explained that it's often because a water pump went down or a line ruptured due to deteriorating infrastructure. But in other cases, some families only have water lines connected to a contaminated well, where the water is unusable. 

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