Friday, April 27, 2012

Celebrate the Essential - Drinking Water Week 2012

The City of Clinton will celebrate Drinking Water Week 2012 with a call to “Celebrate the Essential” throughout Clinton.   

If you ask American Water Works Association Executive Director David LaFrance, he will tell you that there is nothing more essential to a community’s health and vitality than reliable access to safe drinking water. Drinking Water Week, which is May 6th through May 12, provides an excellent opportunity for all of us to focus for a moment on the importance of caring for our water supply and water distribution system.

Water is an essential element in our daily lives, but in our part of the world we often take the convenience of fresh clean water available in our homes for granted. The buried pipes that deliver water to your to your home or business are a vital piece of our efforts to provide an excellent quality of life and to grow the economy of our community. They are among our most valuable community assets, and it is important that we keep the water treatment and distribution infrastructure in good working order.

Much of the nation’s drinking water infrastructure was constructed by previous generations during the late 1800s, the 1920s and during the Post World War II boom. Many of the water mains from all three eras must be replaced or repaired in the next 25 years. In fact, according to a recent AWWA study titled “Buried No Longer: Confronting America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge,” the cost of repairing and expanding U.S. drinking water infrastructure will top $1 trillion in the next 25 years. That figure will rise to $1.7 trillion by 2050.

Addressing these issues will be costly, but not insurmountable, according to the “Buried No Longer” report. Facing them head-on by proactively investing in our tap water systems is a smart, safe, common sense investment that will pay off for generations to come.  The City of Clinton has proactively partnered with the South Carolina Department of Commerce and the Upper Savannah Regional Council of Governments to invent almost $2 million in upgrading the water distribution system in the Lydia Mill area of the city. The distribution infrastructure in this part of the city was identified by city personnel as being the one most in need of significant upgrade.  Nearly 80% of the cost of those upgrades was funded through federal grant programs. The City has also worked to upgrade lines in other parts of the city, including York and Misallie  Drive, and upcoming projects to upgrade and replace water lines on Pine Street and Musgrove Street are planned.

Public drinking water systems, like your City of Clinton system, play a critical role in public health. In a world where an estimated eight million people die every day from preventable waterborne diseases, people in Clinton can drink from virtually any public tap with a high assurance of safety. Without our modern water systems, diseases such as cholera and dysentery would be a tragic part of our everyday life.

 In the United States and Canada, over 1.5 million house fires occur each year. While most of us never think about fires until they occur, there is a vast network of water infrastructure in place to protect us when they do. Simply put, a water system that provides reliable water at a high pressure and volume can be the difference between a manageable fire and an inferno.

Though often taken for granted, tap water is critical to the daily operations of existing businesses and to the vitality of new commercial enterprises and residential developments. From foods and beverages, to toothpastes and perfumes, water is the primary ingredient in hundreds of thousands of every day products. Therefore, the availability of water resources and service has a profound effect on job creation and overall economic prosperity.

The Clinton Water Treatment Plant has been treating water since 1958.  Water comes from the Enoree River and Duncan Creek. Duncan Creek is only used as an alternative source. The treatment plant treats an average of 2.6 million gallons of water a day and has the ability to treat 6 million gallons of water a day.  After the water is treated it travels through the over 100 miles of water lines to the approximately 4000 water meters of City of Clinton customers.   

For more than 35 years, the American Water Works Association and its members have celebrated Drinking Water Week – a unique opportunity for both water professionals and the communities they serve to join together to recognize the vital role water plays in our daily lives.