Water: Sustainable Infrastructure
What is Your Water Infrastructure's Story?
Many local officials already know the basics about their community water infrastructure. But you can deepen your contribution to your community if you grow your knowledge of the history of your systems and how infrastructure has been managed in the past.
Many communities have deferred maintenance due to tight budgets and put off rate increases in efforts to spare the consumer the burden of higher bills. Each community also has its own unique water-related challenges with which it struggles, whether it be aging pipes, rapid growth or population decline, combined sewer overflows, flooding or drought, supply shortages, and many others.
There are many questions you can ask that will inform your decisions as you move your community to water infrastructure sustainability. Here are a few questions to ask (even when you know some of the answers) as you move to shape your infrastructure future.
- How old are our infrastructure systems and their various parts?
- Do we have an assessment of the condition of all of our water infrastructure assets?
- What is the rate history for water services in our community?
- At what rate have we been replacing or rehabilitating our piping systems?
- Are we planning for infrastructure investments needed as new rules from EPA come into effect?
- What are the three biggest challenges faced by our drinking water/wastewater utility?
To get the information you need and have it on hand, you can use our "Know Your Water Sector Systems" (2 pp, 564K, About PDF) to guide your conversations or as the core information you request in a fact sheet from your utility managers.
With a clear background established, you can then initiate the next appropriate steps toward your goal of supporting sustainable water infrastructure. For more information on concrete steps you can take, visit the Five Things You Should Do page.
For a more detailed review of your drinking water and wastewater systems, try the Maryland Center for Environmental Training: Self-Evaluation Toolkit for Drinking Water Systems.
We also recommend this excellent "Handbook on Wastewater Management for Local Representatives" (148 pp, 6.4MB, About PDF) , developed by the New York Environmental Finance Center.