Okay California – Can You Imagine a Day Without Water?


CWEA is proud to be participating in the The Value of Water’s Imagine a Day Without Water campaign this week. Join us! Be sure to use the hash tag #ValueWater as you post to Facebook or Twitter this week.


Here is an op-ed by the Value of Water Coalition…

If you read something about “our infrastructure is falling apart,” you probably picture potholes and rusting bridges that need to be replaced. But that’s the infrastructure you can easily see. There is a whole universe of infrastructure under our feet that, in many places, is much older than the roads we drive on.

Underground, out of sight and out of mind, is a massive network of water systems that work 24/7/365 to bring clean, safe drinking water to us and take away water after it has been used to be treated. According to National Geographic, the U.S. has 1.2 million miles of water mains—that’s 26 miles of water mains for every mile of interstate highway. Many of those pipes were built in the 1800s or early 1900s, and many of those systems were built for cities of a century ago, not today’s modern metropolises.

If those systems failed, we would wake up to a very unpleasant morning. Imagine a day without water. You couldn’t brush your teeth, flush the toilet or take a shower. You couldn’t give your dog a bowl of water or make your coffee. And that’s just residential use. Commercial use is a huge component of water consumption as well. Everything from breweries and restaurants, to manufacturing plants and groundskeepers need water too. Water keeps our economy flowing.

We have to remember several California communities are struggling to live through this drought without tap water. They don’t have to imagine – their city has run out of water.
Click here to see articles about those communities >


We here at California Water Environment Association know that water is essential, and that’s why we are part of a nationwide educational effort called “Imagine a Day Without Water.” Dozens of other water agencies, mayors, engineers, contractors, business leaders, community members, schools and more are joining the effort, because even though water is absolutely essential to everything we do, it too often is forgotten. Again: out of sight, out of mind.

But it needs to be on all of our minds because California’s water and water resource recovery systems are older than you realize. We have some treatment facilities and pipes that date back to the turn of the century. And while California water and wastewater agencies do a great job bringing safe, reliable, and affordable water to customers, the region should know that just because the infrastructure is invisible to us, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

Water might fall from the sky and flow through our rivers, but it is far from free. Processing it, treating it, bringing it to your house and then taking wastewater from your house to get cleaned up costs big bucks. No matter how much or little water we use, that price tag is only going to increase as the system ages.

The good news is, we can be ahead of the curve. Deferred maintenance, waiting until a water main breaks or a system breaks down—those are the most expensive repairs possible. But if we continually maintain the system, if we upgrade our pipes, if we implement smarter technologies – then we can save money in the long run. And if we can improve the resiliency and reliability of our water and wastewater systems, then no more California communities will ever have to imagine a day without water.


About the Author

Alec Mackie

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