Water Doesn’t Grow on Trees, Nor Do Roots Sprout Pipes

By Brent Fewell

I posted earlier this week on the enormous financial needs for restoring our water resources and infrastructure within the United State alone.  Our water systemriver roads have atrophied and are no longer able to provide the same level of services we have come to expect and need to maintain our current standard of living.  Below is a picture of what happens when a 66-inch water main breaks.  This was near my home in Potomac, MD, on River Road, which occurred several years back.  That fateful morning, River Road turned into a torrential river, nearly claiming the lives of several commuters, who had to be rescued, and cost millions of dollars in emergency repairs and lost business due to extended water outages.  This senario is occurring far too often as water main breaks and costly outages are becoming the norm in many communities. 

imagesCALZ7EZ7This week, a new group called the Value of Water Coalition, of which I’m proud to say my company, United Water, is a founding member, launched a national campaign to help educate the public on the critical importance of water to human health, environmental quality, and the economic vitality of our communities.  Truth be told, the American public doesn’t sufficiently value, and therefore pays too little for this vital resource.  Not preaching, but while many see no problem with paying several dollars for a bottle of water, they scream and moan at being asked to pay several dollars more each month to improve the delivery of water gonig directly into their homes.  Importantly, let me caveat that, however, and emphasize that many of our nation’s poor cannot afford the current cost of water provision, so we as a nation must do a better job at assisting those who unable to pay for something that is essential to life.  And the water sector has suffered historically from the silo effect, pitting wastewater against drinking water, public against private, and NGOs against industry, resulting in an inability to promote a clear consistent message.  Well, those days are over thanks to the vision and leadership of the organizations involved.  This from Water World,

WASHINGTON, DC, Oct. 2, 2013 — A new campaign to inform Americans about the value of water and the challenges facing the nation’s water infrastructure was created by the Value of Water Coalition, a group comprising the leading organizations responsible for ensuring the safety, reliability and sustainability of U.S. waters.

Communities across the U.S. are relying on an aging water infrastructure in need of repair or replacement. It is estimated that there is one water main break every two minutes in the United States, and that the nation must invest $1.3 trillion in repairs and upgrades over the next 25 years. Yet the majority of adults incorrectly believe our water infrastructure is in good condition.

To bridge this gap, the Value of Water Campaign will leverage content-generation and social sharing. The website, www.thevalueofwater.org, serves as the campaign’s hub, aggregating the latest news and information on water-related issues. This information is then distributed through the Coalition’s Value of Water social channels. Also, new content and information about water and water infrastructure in our daily lives will be regularly distributed online through videos, infographics and Slideshare decks.

“As the water sector continues to innovate and ensure its resiliency, so too are we looking to be innovative in the ways we communicate about how our work supports communities across the country,” said Ken Kirk, Executive Director, National Association of Clean Water Agencies. “The greater the understanding of our nation’s aging infrastructure and what is required to maintain it, the more we will value water as a precious resource and take actions to protect it for future generations.”

This effort marks the first time such a broad coalition of water businesses and nonprofit associations has come together as a single voice. The organization unites public and private interests to address the current state of water infrastructure and the need for significant investment to keep system performance at the levels of quality and safety Americans have come to expect.

“This unprecedented effort by such a diverse group of organizations representing the public and private sectors, drinking water and clean water, really highlights the importance of addressing the challenges facing the U.S.,” said David LaFrance, Executive Director, American Water Works Association (AWWA). “Water plays an invaluable role in our lives and businesses, but as the country continues to grow and develop, the continued delivery of drinking water and effective removal and treatment of wastewater are at risk.”

The new and evolving Coalition represents city water utilities, non-profit water associations and water services and technology companies. They each work daily to ensure homes and workplaces are supplied with clean and safe water for drinking and other uses, and that after its use, this same water is cleaned and made safe again before being discharged into the environment.

“Every individual, family and business across the United States depends on safe and reliable water service,” said Michael Deane, Executive Director, National Association of Water Companies. “The current condition of our nation’s water infrastructure puts that service in jeopardy and inaction only allows it to worsen. Americans must understand that these are very real challenges, but they can and must be met.”

Current members of the Value of Water Coalition include: American Water, American Water Works Association (AWWA), Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), CH2M HILL, MWH Global, National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), National Association of Water Companies (NAWC), United Water, U.S. Water Alliance, Veolia Water, Water Environment Federation (WEF) and Xylem Inc.