Water insecurity makes the world less stable and less safe, Vice President Kamala Harris said Wednesday as she unveiled a new White House plan to make safe drinking water accessible to billions at home and across the globe.

She said the new White House Action Plan on Global Water Security elevates the issue to an international priority for the Biden administration.

“The past two and a half years during the pandemic have demonstrated that our world is more interconnected and interdependent than ever before. Water scarcity is a global problem, and it must be met with a global solution,” Harris said during remarks at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C.

“So, today, we make clear: The United States will be a leader in the solution.”

According to a White House fact sheet on the action plan, the Biden administration seeks to use U.S. government resources — including science, technology, defense and diplomacy — to push global water security and foreign policy goals. This includes safe, sustainable access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene as well as water for agriculture, energy and other economic activities.

Harris said a lack of access to such water resources has made the water less stable, making it difficult to produce food, maintain public health, driving economic growth and ultimately fueling mass migration. It’s also led to less security by provoking armed conflict over water sources and access.

“So let’s get in front of this. Let’s take it seriously. Let’s understand the various ramifications of this issue. And let’s also deal with the reality that within the variety of issues that are presented, there is the issue of equity — because finally we know that water insecurity makes our world less equitable,” she said.

Harris said that as a Californian, she’s been particularly aware of the threats and dangers of a lack of access to water, seeing first-hand the effects of severe drought and wildfires on U.S. land.

“As many as 10 million households get their water through lead pipes and service lines in America, as do up to 400,000 schools and childcare facilities,” Harris added. “As a result, our country today — in this country, more than half of children under the age of six are at risk of lead exposure.

“Obviously, this is unconscionable and utterly unacceptable.”

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