, Salem, MA


October 21, 2013

Column: What is clean and safe water worth?


Much of this water infrastructure was built nearly a century ago for a smaller population. It is aging and overburdened. Even with newer facilities and innovative alternatives, upgrades are required to keep pace with growing needs and environmental challenges. The level of investment by governments in maintaining water infrastructure has declined dramatically. In addition, sewer and water rates are not always reflective of the true cost of service. These systems need our attention. Delaying work to rehabilitate and expand infrastructure will only increase future costs.

We must all work together to keep our water clean and healthy. To do this, we all must learn to value water and the infrastructure associated with it. Consider the fact that the majority of Americans pay more for their cellphone service or their cable service than they do for their water and wastewater services.

There are many water-quality professionals that proudly work to provide clean and safe water to our communities. They are constantly seeking innovative solutions to community and water system challenges, undertaking efforts such as reclaiming water for reuse and generating energy from wastewater, which allow all of us to adapt to our changing environment and be good caretakers of our water resources. These water-quality professionals have dedicated their careers to providing clean and safe water to protect everyone’s health, planet, quality of life and the economy, but they can’t do it alone. Everyone uses water, and everyone is responsible for it. We all have something at stake when it comes to water. We need to invest in protecting our natural resources, public health and economic viability through our water infrastructure. Reinvestment in water infrastructure is an important step in ensuring our communities will continue to have access to the clean and safe water they need now and into the future.


Matthew Formica, P.E., is a Salem resident and vice president of the New England Water Environment Association.

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