Throughout this historic and horrific hurricane season, it has been almost impossible to imagine what a day without water would look like. In September, three major hurricanes hit the United States, resulting in significant loss of life and property, massive infrastructure damage, and public health concerns due to widespread flooding.
But today when we are asked to imagine a day without water, we are not just talking about the presence of water, we are talking about water and wastewater infrastructure we need to make our communities thrive. Extreme flooding threatens our water infrastructure and it is our job as engineers to devise strategies to maintain this essential public good.
What makes our jobs more complex is that while infrastructure on the East Coast may be under water, on the West Coast it is threatened by drought and wildfires. On Sunday, more than a dozen wildfires erupted in Northern California and continue to blaze today, making this one of the deadliest outbreaks in the state’s history. The fires have burned through more than 100,000 acres, destroying thousands of homes, businesses, and wineries. Having a reliable water supply to fight these fires isn’t just important, it is absolutely necessary.
The challenges facing our industry are causing us to reimagine solutions so we can ensure that communities, institutions, and businesses will never have to imagine a day without water services. But as Imagine a Day Without Water underscores, our water and wastewater infrastructure is essential to our national health, safety, and economic prosperity, but it is threatened by old age and a lack of funding. Investment in our drinking water and wastewater systems is urgently needed to overcome the massive challenges facing our nation’s crumbling infrastructure.
While it is impossible to solve the world’s problems in a day’s work, it is our responsibility to create sustainable infrastructure for the future. I am proud to work for Woodard & Curran and with the Woodard & Curran Foundation to tackle some of the toughest water and environmental challenges and make a real difference to our clients, our people, and our planet.