Walk the halls of Capitol Hill this week and you’ll encounter more than 130 water utility leaders from throughout the United States, all headed to conversations with their respective members of Congress. By Thursday afternoon, they will have logged more than 400 separate meetings designed to inform elected officials of critical water issues in need of attention.
The utility leaders are part of the Water Matters! Fly-In, an annual event sponsored by the American Water Works Association. Delegates hail from AWWA sections from around the country, and they are armed with information on both national and local water concerns.
And what issues are on their minds?
You’ll get a pretty good idea by looking at AWWA’s State of the Water Industry Report. Each year, AWWA compiles surveys of close to 2,000 water professionals, and in recent years, the survey suggests that the top issue is the state of water and wastewater infrastructure. AWWA’s 2012 report, Buried No Longer: Confronting America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge, shows the nation faces a $1 trillion challenge over the next 25 years to rebuild and expand drinking water infrastructure—and it may be another trillion to address wastewater pipes. Also near the top of State of the Water Industry concerns is the public’s understanding of the value of water – both resources and infrastructure.
One thing seems certain. As people better understand the value water and water systems, our elected leaders will be even more open to conversations like those occurring this week in Washington.