Since our founding in 2016, our mission at Tern has been to provide people with access to safe and sustainable water through innovative products and services that provide better information about contaminants and make water safer at the point of use.
According to USA Today, as many as 63 million Americans are exposed to unsafe drinking water, that’s almost a fifth of the entire country. This is one of the most critical elements that our nation faces today, and continues to elevate in severity. That same report highlights that 63% of Americans have a “great deal” of concern about pollution in our drinking water. That’s the highest level of distrust within the public water system since 2001.
Limited funding over the last decades have forced municipalities to put less focus on their own infrastructure. This has caused many parts of the water infrastructure to decay, allowing contamination to flood into the water system. Problems with the infrastructure are difficult for municipalities to fix, as it’s extremely hard to pinpoint the source of the problem, as reported in the NY Times, “For drinking water infrastructure, like the pipes and the mains, it’s out of sight, out of mind — until the main breaks outside your house, and you can’t drink your own water.”
Unfortunately, some municipalities choose to do the wrong thing due to limited budgets. One of the most famous water problems in the US is Flint, Michigan. In order to reduce the water fund shortfall, the city announced that a new pipeline would be built to deliver water from Lake Huron to Flint. In 2014, while it was under construction, the city turned to the Flint River as a water source. Soon after the switch, residents said the water started to look, smell and taste funny. Water tests were conducted and extremely high levels of lead were found. As politicians, and bureaucracy dictates the situation in Flint even today, the people in Flint continue to get very harmful water, and the infrastructure is decaying even faster due to high lead levels.
Long term, limited infrastructure funding is just one cause of current water issues. The unexpected increase of migration to urban locations has also played a critical role. More migration out of the suburbs to the cities is expected to continue to grow over the next few decades. This forces municipalities to serve a much larger number of consumers than expected. The need to serve a larger population decreases the amount of time to complete a reliable water purification process, and also adds unexpected pressure to the entire system which typically has limited capacity and is not planned to scale.. One of the most notable cities that faces this problem is Los Angeles, where the city government had to tap into many different water sources in order to meet the increasing demand in the city.
The complexity of the water problem is extremely high, and many parties are responsible for the growing problem. Yet what is clear throughout the entire industry is that the decaying infrastructure is the elephant in the room. It’s what everyone is avoiding, yet is the core of all the different problems associated with water. Given the complexity of the problem, it becomes a source of, tremendous bureaucracy, and very little action, while the people of the country face the risk of unsafe drinking water everyday.
The biggest challenge is that the public are the ones most affected by this enormous infrastructure problem, yet they don’t have the necessary tools, resources, or control to solve it. As this problem elevates, people will start facing larger challenges and without the right set of tools they will be lost trying to fix it. Many experts around the world have warned for years now about the rising risks of the global water problem. At Tern, we see it as our fundamental duty to build the proper tools for people, in order for them to best manage this upcoming global crisis, and avoid the risks it could have to them and their loved ones.
With this knowledge in mind, we built Tern with the fundamental focus on water at the point-of-use. We believe focusing on the point-of-use allows us to best serve the public, helping to ensure that they get the best water to drink. We find it extremely important that people have access to the tools that they would need, in-order for them to best mitigate the problems associated with water that could rise in the upcoming years. These tools need to be convenient, sustainable, and informative to people, so they can do what is best for them and their families.
Water is like no other resource. We often refer to it as a commodity but that is a misnomer. We are blessed. We are blessed to be the only known planet with a significant amount of freshwater available to sustain all the different forms of life we have on earth. Healthy freshwater isn’t just the most important resource on our planet, but it’s also what makes us here on earth special in this gigantic universe. We believe in helping to maintain the accessibility of healthy freshwater on earth, because we believe that is what is needed to maintain us and our beautiful ecosystem.
Safe, sustainable water plays a fundamental role in keeping us alive, but it also plays a big role in keeping us healthy if consumed in the right amounts. Drinking 8 or more cups of healthy water a day, will keep you hydrated, energie your muscles, maintain a normal bowel function, help keep your kidneys functioning, and help to keep your skin looking beautiful. Through Tern’s products and service, we hope to help increase people’s trust in their water and therefore increase the amount of healthy water they drink everyday.