Santa Paula Times

Drinking Water Week Underscores theValue of Water Infrastructure

May 07, 2008
Santa Paula News

As Drinking Week continues, the American Water Works Association joins communities across North America in recognizing the value of critical water infrastructure and the growing need to repair and replace aging pipes.

As Drinking Week continues, the American Water Works Association joins communities across North America in recognizing the value of critical water infrastructure and the growing need to repair and replace aging pipes.Much of our drinking water infrastructure was constructed between 80 and 100 years ago. As a result, thousands of miles of underground water and sewer lines are reaching the end of their functional lifespan and are in need of replacement. An AWWA study found the cost of replacing and repairing aging pipes will top $250 billion over the next 20 years.“North America’s infrastructure has reached a turning point, and while the cost of repairing and replacing the aging pipes is immense, the cost of inaction could be immeasurable,” said Gary Zimmerman, AWWA executive director.. “Drinking Water Week is the perfect time to bring the issue of buried water infrastructure above ground and remember the value of the water it delivers. “In addition to the effects of an aging system, there are new demands placed on infrastructure as population areas grow and expand into arid climates, new regulations to improve public health are implemented, and the post 9/11 era dictates a greater level of protection for our water facilities and distribution networks.“We are all stewards of the magnificent drinking water system built largely by past generations and passed on to us,” said Zimmerman. “And it is now our responsibility to ensure a safe and reliable water supply for future generations to enjoy.”Several years of drought across parts of the United States have strained water resources. In fact, in 2007, much of the Southeast, including North Carolina, Alabama and Georgia, reached the most severe category of drought assigned by climatologists, creating a situation so serious that some cities came dangerously close to running out of water. In the United States alone, communities use approximately 40 billion gallons of tap water for everyday uses, such as drinking, cooking, and cleaning, fighting fires and supporting local economy. To meet increased demand, the water community is exploring new technologies to develop alternative sources of clean, drinkable water. This includes desalination, the removal of salt from ocean water or brackish water in underground aquifers. Communities also are exploring water reuse, which involves recycling wastewater that has been treated to improve its quality. This reclaimed water can be used for irrigation, wetland restoration, industrial washing and cooling, fire protection, geothermic energy production and car washing.Water consumers can play a key role in ensuring the sustainability of their water supplies, especially as the summer months approach. Daily indoor per capita water use in the typical single family home is 69.3 gallons, according to a study by the research foundation AwwaRF. Households can reduce this water use by about 35% to 45.2 gallons per day by employing conservation and water efficiency measures. As Drinking Water Week continues, the American Water Works Association offers the following conservation tips:Top 10 Conservation Tips:1. Don’t leave the sink running while you brush your teeth.2. Fully load the dishwasher and clothes washer before running them.3. When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run.4. Repair dripping faucets and leaky toilets. Dripping faucets can waste up to 2,000 gallons of water each year in the average home. Leaky toilets can waste as much as 200 gallons per day.
5. Install water-efficient appliances in your home. Look for the EPA WaterSense labels, and check with your local water system to see if they offer rebates.6. Don’t over-water your lawn, and water early in the morning or at night to avoid excess evaporation.7. When the driveway or sidewalk needs cleaning, consider a broom instead of a hose. It can save up to 80 gallons of water.8. If you have a swimming pool, use a cover. You will cut the loss of water by evaporation by 90 percent.9. Help preserve the quality of the available water supply by not overusing pesticides and fertilizers, avoiding flushing medications down the toilet or sink, and disposing of hazardous materials properly.10. Place rain barrels beneath your downspouts. The rainwater can be used for outdoor plants and trees or to wash a car.For more information on water conservation, visit Information on U.S. EPA’s WaterSense program can be found at Community Highlights Security during Drinking Water WeekNearly seven years after the events of 9/11, water utilities are continually evaluating security measures and practices. “The water community remains vigilant in its commitment to secure our community water supplies,” said Gary Zimmerman, executive director of the American Water Works Association. “Water utilities are investing in physical security, cyber-security and contaminant monitoring technologies. At the same time, utility emergency response planning has advanced significantly in recent years.“It’s important to remember that all of us have a role to play in protecting our water supplies and facilities,” Zimmerman added. “If you see unusual activity by a water facility or at a hydrant, please don’t hesitate to call the police.”Security continues to be a priority among water providers. Water professionals, security experts and emergency responders gathered April 6-8 in Cincinnati, Ohio, to discuss issues related to security at the fifth AWWA Water Security Congress. More than 50 manufacturers of security technologies were present to share the latest innovations with attendees. Among the new initiatives discussed at the congress is the “Roadmap to Secure Control Systems in the Water Sector,” sponsored by AWWA and the Department of Homeland Security, which will help the water sector address challenges and prepare to mitigate cyber attacks.While protecting water systems, utilities are also working with each other and partner agencies on responses in case of an intentional attack or natural disaster. AWWA’s “Utilities Helping Utilities: An Action Plan for Mutual Aid and Assistance Networks for Water and Wastewater Utilities,” provides guidance for utilities to develop and establish intrastate mutual aid and assistance networks. More information can be found at