California Water Association Executive Director Jack Hawks published an editorial titled, “Day Without Water Calls Attention to Needed Infrastructure Investment,” that appeared in more than a dozen newspapers in California during the second week of October. The editorial ran in Los Angeles, Pasadena, other cities in Los Angeles County and the Bay Area as well as in Sacramento and Chico. The guest commentary coincided with the nationwide “Imagine a Day Without Water,” which sought to raise awareness about how essential and vital water is to daily life and the critical need to protect and invest in the resources and infrastructure to keep it flowing to families and communities.
The editorial noted that every two minutes a water main breaks somewhere in the United States, resulting in billions of gallons of treated water being lost every year. Worse are losses from household leaks – approximately 1 trillion gallons annually, or enough to represent the annual household water needs of 11 million homes, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
In California, especially, Hawks wrote that the need to conserve precious water resources for a reliable water supply has become center stage as the state endures a fourth year of historic drought. Governor Jerry Brown issued an Executive Order mandating all Californians to reduce water use. The State Water Resources Control Board set mandatory water conservation targets for water providers throughout the state.
Investor-owned water companies (IOWCs), which serve approximately 6 million Californians and are regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission, have been partnering with their customers to do their part. The commentary noted that IOWC customers have reduced their usage by an average of nearly 30 percent compared with 2013 levels.
The article acknowledged the reduction as a remarkable achievement, but it said, “We cannot build a reliable water supply on conservation alone … [the] country needs to make critical investments to repair and improve the massive infrastructure that makes water delivery possible and improve long-term reliability. [In California], the eight largest water IOWCs invested more than $400 million in 2014 on needed water infrastructure, including construction and/or refurbishment of storage tanks, reservoirs, distribution mains, groundwater storage, wells, booster pumps and well pumps and water treatment plants.”
The editorial closed by saying, “All of this investment makes it possible for these utilities to serve their customers with safe, reliable, high-quality water. As you turn on the tap this week, hop in the shower or wash a full load of clothes or dishes, take a moment to reflect on what makes this possible.”