Water is one of the most basic human needs and should be something everyone can have access to. However, reliable, high-quality water service is not guaranteed. Epic drought, record flooding, infrastructure failure, water contamination, and climate change are straining our nation’s water systems. These issues are more serious in developing countries and the impact on the population is more severe.
The health and prosperity of America is largely dependent upon an unseen network of underground water pipes that many customers take largely for granted. A recent report issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers on the nation’s water infrastructure reaffirmed the need to invest more funds in it to refurbish the systems. Its report card gave our nation’s water infrastructure a C- for not making the investments needed to maintain and repair our water systems.
Loss of water service is not only a public health concern but can be an economic disaster. A single day without water service nationwide would put $43.5 billion in economic activity at risk. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that $743 billion of investment in water and wastewater infrastructure is needed over the next two decades just to meet existing environmental and health standards. This estimate doesn’t include complying with new regulatory mandates and the effects of climate change, which could cost hundreds of millions of dollars to address.
At the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority (RWA), a water utility and environmental services company where I serve as president and chief executive officer, we address the issue of aging infrastructure by historically investing over $30 million annually in improvements to provide for present and future water supply requirements and to meet rigorous state and federal water quality standards of the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Reliable, clean drinking water is a resource like no other. For 173 years, the RWA has been working with purpose and passion, knowing that we are managing an extraordinary resource with endless benefits for consumers and communities.
For those of us who are dedicated to producing and delivering clean, safe drinking water, we know that climate change and access to water remain formidable challenges. Managing our water resources in the U.S. and around the world is one of the most important challenges facing the planet in the coming decades
Join us in recommitting to becoming better stewards of this resource. The decisions we make now about land use, drought, and the financial investments needed to address aging infrastructure and climate change will play a large role in the future of accessible drinking water. Take a stand and commit to using water wisely, supporting climate change legislation to help water systems adapt to changing conditions, encouraging public officials to prioritize investments in water through grants and low-cost loans, and living more sustainably.
Our future depends on it.
This essay was adapted from a viewpoint piece Bingaman originally published in the CONNECTICUT MIRROR.
Larry “Bing” Bingaman holds a BS in Business Administration from California State University and an executive MBA from the University of New Haven. He’s pursuing a PhD in Leadership and Change from Antioch University Graduate School of Leadership & Change. Bing has served as the President & CEO of the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority (RWA) since January 2009. He is one of the first 100 founding members of the Conscious Capitalism Senior Leader Network, and founder and board chair emeritus for the Connecticut Chapter of Conscious Capitalism.