This editorial letter originally appeared in WWD May 2021 issue as "Leverage This Opportunity"
Can you feel the energy? The month of March was filled with big hitter news stories regarding the future of the water industry on a weekly basis. We witnessed the American Society of Civil Engineers Infrastructure Report Card reveal, the delay of the Lead & Copper Rule Revision for more public comment, and the publishing of the Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule in the first three weeks. And it all culminated in U.S. President Joe Biden’s proposed $2 billion infrastructure plan, The American Jobs Plan.
This plan has been unanimously backed by industry associations as well as municipal leaders and their community partners. The U.S. EPA hosted a discussion with stakeholders, Vice President Kamala Harris visited the San Leandro Water Treatment Plant, and President Biden has spoken with clear language about his vision to remove 100% of the lead pipes in the U.S.
The energy and optimism for the industry as of press time is at an all-time high. While I’m new to the industry, professionals with far more experience than me and far longer and illustrious careers than me, have indicated they’ve never seen anything like this. Maria Lehman, the U.S. infrastructure lead for GHD with 40 years of experience, said this is a once in a generational opportunity, for example.
The sticking point will be how to pay for it. We know this is the biggest hurdle to overcome in getting any infrastructure package done, and one that is too complex to cover in an editorial letter.
But we’ve also seen the growing question, “What is infrastructure?” This question has resulted in Congressional leaders asking why all manner of infrastructure — including pipes — are considered infrastructure.
We must get better at communicating our industry’s worth.
Pipes are infrastructure. Your facilities are infrastructure. The people who work for you are also infrastructure. Roads, bridges, and rails get the spotlight more often than water and wastewater. Let’s change that. WWD has made a living post on its website to share pictures of water infrastructure and to celebrate the successes of the industry.
Visit wwdmag.com/this-is-water-infrastructure and share the link with people you know. Get involved with our efforts by sharing pictures with us. Water infrastructure isn’t invisible. It is right there. It’s about time we proved it.