Cook County, Marin County, Every County

The World Meteorological Organization, an agency of the United Nations, has warned of a “looming water crisis”.

Greenfield Reporter Lee Hamilton points out that this applies to the US as much as it does to any part of the world.

But it’s not a distant early warning.

Bloomberg writes about Marin County “one of California’s wealthiest counties” running out of water next summer.

The article makes an important point about investment over the last 100 years having gone towards expanding supply rather than on conservation and managing demand.  One should add rather than on addressing leakage too.

But it’s not even a warning about next year.  It’s a warning about what’s already going on.

It’s been more than a week since the residents of Dixmoor in Cook County have had a reliable water service.  The problem isn’t isolated.  “This isn’t just a Dixmoor problem. This is a problem throughout the south suburban communities,” said Deborah Sims, Cook County commissioner. “Robbins has a problem. Ford Heights has a problem.  They wonder why the water bills in these communities are so high. The reason why the water bills are so high is because the water is seeping in the ground.”

It’s no good fixing these problems with improved supply or regulation on water use/appliances.  Not that they don’t need to be done but their impact will be longer-term.  Requiring reductions in usage from resentful customers who can see that their pain is a result of a failure to invest will not be welcome.

The course of action needs to be:

  1. Identify the causes of leaks (over-pressure and transients) and remove them;
  2. Find and fix bursts and leaks quickly and in a cost-effective way network-wide; and
  3. Concentrate investment on those parts of the network that are most vulnerable to bursts and leaks.

And these should be reinforced with regulatory requirements if necessary through rate cases.

Mueller Water Products has a suite of smart network solutions that support these 3 actions including products from Echologics, Hydroguard, Singer Valves, and i2O.