Forum: Reinvestment in drinking water infrastructure must remain a national priority
One of Connecticut’s greatest resources is the quality and safety of our public water supplies. The South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority, or RWA, along with all the water companies in our state, is deeply committed to providing consumers with a reliable supply of high-quality water to meet their needs.
A recent ranking by WalletHub - a personal finance website - compared state and local tax collections with the quality of government services, measured across education, health, safety, economy, infrastructure and pollution. Connecticut ranked as the No. 1 state in America to have the best water quality.
Not surprising. Connecticut’s sources of public drinking water only use the highest quality and most protected waters in the state, called Class A or AA, and our state’s public drinking water sources are safeguarded by numerous laws intended to protect public health.
Consider this: Connecticut is only one of two states in the nation that prohibits discharges from wastewater treatment plants within public water supply watersheds. This means that, unlike other states, Connecticut’s public water supplies have very little risk of exposure to pharmaceuticals and other contaminants that are flushed through sewers and into the wastewater stream. And, like other water companies in the state, before water ever reaches the tap, the RWA takes several steps to protect its supplies and watershed areas from potential contamination. We use a multi-barrier approach that focuses on watershed and aquifer management to protect the quality of our drinking water sources, treatment of the water prior to consumption, maintaining the distribution system that delivers the water, and monitoring water quality to ensure consumers receive the highest quality water possible.
At the RWA, we test for 90 contaminants in our public drinking water sources. In 2016, the RWA collected over 10,000 water samples taken from numerous locations throughout our water distribution system, within our water treatment plants, and in the lakes and aquifers where the water is stored prior to treatment; and we conducted nearly 120,000 tests to ensure that high-quality water reaches consumers in Greater New Haven. These test results consistently demonstrate that our drinking water meets or is better than the water quality standards established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Connecticut Department of Public Health.
In addition, we are committed to working with state and federal regulators, lawmakers, environmental and watershed organizations, and the public, to ensure that our consumers continue to have access to a reliable supply of high-quality water for current and future needs. But, future water quality cannot be ensured without a constant effort to maintain water system infrastructure.
A recent report issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers on the nation’s infrastructure reaffirmed the need to invest in it. At the RWA, we address aging infrastructure each year by preparing a prioritized projection of improvements, additions and renovations to the water system to provide for and protect the water supply, and to meet drinking water standards. Reinvestment in drinking water infrastructure must remain a national priority. After all, America’s economy runs on water, and locally, the health and prosperity of Greater New Haven is largely dependent upon a buried network of water pipes.
So, when we consider everything that our water services deliver: protecting public health and the environment, providing fire protection, supporting our economy and assuring the high quality of life we enjoy, it’s clear that water is too essential to ignore. It’s vital that each of us support our local public officials in making decisions necessary to address the infrastructure that connects, protects and supports clean, reliable water so Connecticut remains the No. 1 state in America with the best water quality.
Larry L. Bingaman, is president and CEO of the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority.