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Crucial Conversations About the Value of America’s Water Infrastructure

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Essay Excerpt | Michael Deane, National Association of Water Companies

Consumers of water and public officials do not want to pay more for things they do not understand. That is why it is time for the water industry to have crucial conversations that result in meaningful actions to fix our water infrastructure and deter a national crisis. Crucial conversations with America’s water consumers and elected leaders start with the undeniable truth that water connects us all. What we do with water and the systems that deliver that water affects someone somewhere. As we inform more and more people about the realities of our water infrastructure challenges, we have the opportunity to perpetuate new values and ethics about the use of water.

Crucial conversations about water infrastructure mean telling stories about real people who have jobs and careers in the water industry. Where there is water, there is opportunity. A job in the water industry means you can go home knowing you did something meaningful as part of a team that delivers quality water from the source to the tap. Jobs in the water industry are essential to creating robust local economies and stimulating new ventures.

Crucial conversations about water infrastructure mean we have the opportunity to show how the community of water professionals across this country can come together and tackle major threats to our safety and health.

When Hurricane Sandy flooded coastal communities and inland cities, the water utilities worked together with the Red Cross, FEMA, and other water professionals to ensure clean water was there when it could not come through the tap. When you drive down a street and see new pavement or concrete, consider the possibility that your water professionals fixed a problem in the cold of the night or the heat of the day to restore someone’s water service.

Crucial conversations about water infrastructure must always include the importance of protecting our environment by keeping rivers and streams free of debris and trash. Many water utilities have employees and community-minded citizens who take a day of their weekend to clean up water sources. The Clean Water Act was designed to control and restrict the release of unlawful pollutants and discharges like sewage and chemicals.

Our water quality is better than it has ever been, but that will not continue without immediate, sustained investment in the water infrastructure.

Let’s elevate our effort to change the course we are on and have crucial conversations with people outside the water industry about the value of water and water infrastructure. America’s quality of life depends on it.