Imag­ine a day without wa­ter

New Haven Register (Sunday) (New Haven, CT) - - OPINION - By Larry L. Binga­man Larry L. Binga­man is the pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the South Cen­tral Con­necti­cut Re­gional Wa­ter Author­ity.

On Oct. 10, the Re­gional Wa­ter Author­ity is join­ing a na­tional coali­tion to “Imag­ine a Day Without Wa­ter.” This an­nual day of ac­tion seeks to raise aware­ness about the value of wa­ter and calls on our govern­ment to sup­port in­vest­ments in wa­ter in­fra­struc­ture.

The fall months are of­ten marked by de­bates and dis­cus­sions about the is­sues that di­vide us. To­day, I will ad­dress some­thing that unites us. Ev­ery morn­ing we get up and brush our teeth, take a shower, and maybe make a pot of cof­fee. Later we may do our laun­dry and wash the dishes. None of this would be pos­si­ble without safe and re­li­able wa­ter in­fra­struc­ture.

On Oct. 10, the Re­gional Wa­ter Author­ity is join­ing a na­tional coali­tion to “Imag­ine a Day Without Wa­ter.” This an­nual day of ac­tion seeks to raise aware­ness about the value of wa­ter and calls on our govern­ment to sup­port in­vest­ments in wa­ter in­fra­struc­ture. We all need wa­ter, not just to live but to work as well. A re­cent re­port found that a sin­gle day without wa­ter in our coun­try would re­sult in an eco­nomic loss of $45.3 bil­lion.

Re­li­able, high-qual­ity wa­ter ser­vice is essen­tial to ev­ery as­pect of our lives, but it is not guar­an­teed. In or­der to pre­serve ac­cess to this life-sus­tain­ing re­source, our coun­try needs sup­port for the in­fra­struc­ture that makes its de­liv­ery pos­si­ble.

There must be in­vest­ment in the na­tion’s wa­ter in­fra­struc­ture. This in­cludes the tra­di­tional “gray” in­fra­struc­ture of pipe­lines and plumb­ing, the “green” in­fra­struc­ture of our nat­u­ral wa­ter­sheds, and the “hu­man” in­fra­struc­ture that goes to work ev­ery day to keep the wa­ter run­ning.

That hu­man in­fra­struc­ture is an im­me­di­ate con­cern. Nearly 40 per­cent of the ap­prox­i­mately 550,600 util­ity em­ploy­ees in the United States, in­clud­ing 5,000 in Con­necti­cut, are el­i­gi­ble for re­tire­ment within five years. At the RWA, that num­ber is closer to 50 per­cent . That’s why we teamed up with Gate­way Com­mu­nity Col­lege and South­ern Con­necti­cut State Univer­sity to de­velop a first-of-its-kind aca­demic pro­gram to pre­pare stu­dents for ca­reers in util­i­ties.

Stu­dents can pur­sue an as­so­ci­ate de­gree in Pub­lic Util­ity Man­age­ment at Gate­way. Fol­low­ing that, they can trans­fer to South­ern to com­plete a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in Pub­lic Util­ity Man­age­ment with tracks in wa­ter, elec­tric and gas op­er­a­tions. Grad­u­ates will be equipped to fill a wide range of man­age­rial and tech­ni­cal jobs at the RWA and other util­i­ties. These pro­grams are new and grow­ing, and they need the con­tin­ued sup­port of our leg­isla­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Wa­ter pipe­lines are aging. Nearly half the wa­ter work­force is ap­proach­ing a well-de­served re­tire­ment. There is no time for si­lence. I join tens of thou­sands of voices around the na­tion to re­quest ac­tion so a day without wa­ter never comes. I call on law­mak­ers in Wash­ing­ton and Hart­ford to sup­port wa­ter in­fra­struc­ture and au­tho­rize in­vest­ments through the Drink­ing Wa­ter State Re­volv­ing Fund, and I call on all of you to join me. When some­one asks for your vote this fall, ask them how they will sup­port your wa­ter in­fra­struc­ture.

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