Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Nation's water officials at three-day conference in Philly



Andres Maykuth  reports for the Philadelphia Inquirer:

America's decrepit infrastructure is a timely topic in Washington these days, though elected officials typically focus on highways. About 11,000 water professionals are gathered in Philadelphia this week to make sure that water and wastewater systems, often invisible beneath the streets, move up on the public agenda.

“We have to continue to figure out how to tell our story,” Carla A. Reid, general manager of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission in Laurel, Md., told the annual conference of the American Water Works Association, whose three-day gathering opened Monday at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

“You can hear people saying that we should be providing the water for free and rates shouldn’t go up,” Reid said, eliciting a knowing laugh from the audience during a panel discussion featuring three leaders of water systems that have undergone challenges. “We need to do a better job of selling what we do and why it’s important,”

According to the association, about $1 trillion is needed over the next 25 years to meet demands and to maintain systems that now experience about 240,000 water-main breaks a year and waste more than two trillion gallons of treated drinking water. In its 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the nation’s water systems a grade of D.


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