Water service contributes to nearly every aspect of our lives, from public health to productivity and economic development. Much of the infrastructure that supports our water is aging and in need of repair or replacement. Major infrastructure projects typically require more money than local utilities have on hand. That is why they look for low-cost loans or similar tools such as tax-exempt municipal bonds, public-private partnerships, the state revolving loan fund (SRF) or more recently, the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program to finance projects.
Lead and copper enter drinking water mainly from corrosion of plumbing materials containing lead and copper. While use of lead in new plumbing materials has been banned for more than a quarter century, the release of lead into drinking water from existing materials remains a serious concern.
As regulatory burdens, operational costs, and customer expectations continue to rise, maintaining affordable rates is a challenge for utilities across the nation. Water system partnerships can address a range of challenges, from water supply shortages to aging infrastructure to affordability and financial insecurity.
As stewards of public health and the environment, water professionals have always been aware of the risks associated with securing reservoirs and wells to protect the water supply, guarding materials at their facilities from theft and sabotage, and planning for routine and extraordinary events. The water sector has embraced an all-hazards approach to security and emergency preparedness that mirrors the multibarrier approach for water treatment.
Protecting sources of drinking water is an effective way to reduce risks to public health, instill customer confidence, and control water treatment costs. Addressing water quality concerns at the source also has many other environmental and societal benefits that aren’t seen from treatment alone.
The 1996 Amendments the Safe Drinking Water Act, more clearly than any other environmental law, sets the stage for cost-effective regulations based on the best available science.