Editorial Letter: Communicate Transparently

Feb. 25, 2022

This editorial letter was originally featured in WWD February 2022 issue as "Communicate Transparently"

About the author:

Bob Crossen is Senior Managing Editor for WWD. Crossen can be reached at [email protected]

The industry is now a couple months into reviewing and following the Lead & Copper Rule Revision (LCRR). But there is still some confusion surrounding what requirements need to be met and when they need to be met. We are gathering up information and resources to give you the best available information and resources to meet this regulatory requirement for March both in print and online.

Make sure you visit our website regularly (wwdmag.com) and sign up for our newsletters (see the link in the box below) to receive the most timely information on these and all other industry issues. By its very nature, the print publication lags a month or two behind the news cycle.

With that service announcement out of the way, we also recognize the headwinds related to the LCRR that aren’t as easy to solve with new equipment or capital improvements. Public trust and transparency are going to be critical pieces to the compliance puzzle for all drinking water utilities in the United States.

Communications will likely make or break your lead service line replacement program. Your customers will want to know why you are digging. Have you informed your pipe replacement workers or contractors about the purpose of the work and how they should communicate it to the public? Have you shared your phases and staging plan for replacement at city hall or the county board during a public meeting? When a member of the public calls your utility to ask questions about these pipe replacements, who is answering that call and what are they going to say? Perhaps most importantly, have you talked to your school districts and local daycare centers about testing for lead yet?

Answering these questions is important because somebody’s line will be replaced first and somebody else’s will be replaced last. And nobody will want to be last in line. This will cause conflict. Establish a messaging strategy and be transparent with how you are using and spending your resources to get the work done. Public uproar will only make your job harder, so get in front of these conflicts now and be earnest and honest with your customers with how you’re handling it. Let them know you take their concerns seriously because it is your job to do so.