Drinking Water Week: Who’s Thirsty for New Challenges?

If you asked the public, which era was more in need of Drinking Water Week—modern times or when the first week was held more than 40 years ago—you may be surprised at the large number of people answering “40 years ago.”

People tend to think of the water supply of forty years ago as something that was more along the lines of “the wild west”. In fact, the Colorado River Compact that established water rights for the seven US States in the basin was established almost 100 years ago, in 1922. Yet today we are facing droughts that were unknown to the drafters of the compact, forcing us to rethink how we manage water for a growing population.

Forty years ago, the Safe Drinking Water Act had already been in place for four years, yet it was made at a time when we could count the number of chemicals known to humans in the tens of thousands, not the hundreds of millions that we know today. In 2018, people take it as a given that quality water will be available 24/7. However, in reality, Drinking Water Week is perhaps even more pertinent and vital today as it was four decades ago.

The science, technology, and engineering principles that we use today assure us access to clean, safe, reliable quality water in our homes and businesses.  However, society has evolved in ways that are constantly and more aggressively, challenging water quality and reliability, from speed of information to needing new advanced sensors to ensure the safety of our water. As a community, we need to meet not only the challenge of providing consistent, safe flow of quality water into your homes, but we also need to provide information and a collaborative space where water companies and the communities we serve can work together to keep one-step ahead of these challenges.

The great news is, when Drinking Water Week rolls around we’re not starting on the ground floor. We at American Water are actively engaging with communities to heighten the awareness of key issues and responsibilities that drive to one fundamental goal: Protect the Source.

Every day, we put scientists and engineers to work to understand the current challenges, predict new ones and develop solutions. What can individuals do this Drinking Water Week to advance the mission? Here are my top five suggestions:

  1. Get to know your water on a deeper level. Take a look at your annual Water Quality Reports to get a better understanding of your water and what goes into ensure its quality and reliability. I hope the greater respect you have for it will translate into a greater desire to protect it.
  2. Be conscious of daily water use and take the necessary steps in your home to be water smart and help preserve this precious natural resource.
  3. Be sure that leaking pipes and faucets—indoors and outdoors—are repaired.
  4. Take care in the use of garden, lawn, garage or other home products and ensure that they inadvertently do not find their way into our rivers, streams, and groundwater.
  5. Dispose of chemicals, unused medicines or other potentially harmful products properly and do not put them directly into home drains, the sewer, street drains or the lawn.

Everyone has a role to play, and, with millions of people across the country supporting the effort, Drinking Water Week is a great place to get started.