What’s Beneath Your Feet?

Thanks for joining me for my first blog for Water Street. I’m excited to join the team as a regular contributor. My vision for these blogs is to leverage my experience and expertise as a professional engineer and in business management to inform and empower our readers—but do it in a way that defies what people tend to think of when they hear “engineer” and “business management.”

Take today’s topic for example: looking at what lies beneath your feet to keep communities moving, and how maintaining water infrastructure is imperative to every community’s health and well being. As the person responsible for leading American Water’s corporate engineering department, which provides support for hundreds of water and wastewater systems, this topic is right in my wheelhouse. It’s also something I could talk about for hours. Instead, I invite you to join me on a stroll through Anytown, USA, to experience the great extent to which infrastructure affects our communities and everyday lives by providing for the delivery of safe, clean, reliable drinking water and removal of wastewater.

Let’s get going and think about all the activities of your morning that simply wouldn’t be possible without water mains to supply useable water and sewer mains to convey wastewater. From your morning shower and breakfast, to having freshly laundered clothes to wear on our little walk. It goes without saying, without water infrastructure transporting water from the source to a treatment facility to mains under the streets and finally to the pipes leading to and through your house, our little trip would never go anywhere.

Also, consider this—on average, for every mile of interstate highway in the U.S. there are 26 miles of water mains—or a total of 1.2 million miles throughout the country. Can you imagine? American Water subsidiaries alone operate through more than 50,000 miles of pipeline infrastructure that we need to continually monitor as well as maintain and repair.

Let’s continue with a walk down Main Street. Dozens of children are enjoying recess at the elementary school, and outside the local hospital new parents head home with their bundle of joy. Next, we pass by City Hall, the hub of the town’s operation, and the local fire station where volunteers are servicing the trucks. All these places, and dozens of others like them, are integral to our lives and prosperity. None of them could operate without an intricate system of infrastructure bringing a reliable supply of safe water and sanitation.

Moving on, here’s a part of town I love: a combination of mom-and-pop stores and larger businesses. All of them keep the people of Anytown well supplied, employed, entertained, happy and healthy. They also keep the economy thriving. As we pass by, keep in mind, none of these would exist without water. Moreover, if a water infrastructure problem shuts them down for even one day, it would disrupt the lives of citizens and trickle down to impact the local economy.

The critical role water infrastructure plays in our lives is a long, long path to walk! But, I hope it illustrated that without it, the work of employees, the services provided and the endless opportunities that allow a community to run, thrive and support its people would come to a screeching stop. This is why American Water is investing $8 billion over the next 5 years to addressing aging infrastructure, reduce/eliminate leaks, and increase the resilience of critical asset—because our lives and our futures depend on it!