By Peter Chawaga
It’s no secret to those within the U.S. water treatment industry: the ability to deliver clean drinking water is wholly dependent on the nation’s infrastructure for doing so. But much of the general public is unaware of just how critical this buried infrastructure is.
To change this dynamic, the Value of Water Campaign — a group of industry supporters including engineering firms, water utilities, environmental groups, and more — has released a three-year progress report on its work to raise awareness around the country’s water infrastructure.
“Three years ago, top leaders in the water industry came together to establish a shared vision for how to better communicate the value of water and the infrastructure that brings it to and from homes and businesses,” the report introduction reads. “Utilities, engineering companies, and policy groups set a big, audacious goal: launch a disciplined and sustained educational effort to build the public and political will to dramatically increase investment in our nation’s aging and failing water infrastructure.”
Among the progress shared in the report was information about Value of Water’s ongoing public opinion research. It regularly conducts work with focus groups to identify the messages that will be most effective with target audiences and its polling collects data that could help the water sector make a best case to local and national decision-makers that there is support for water investment.
“For example, support for rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure increased by 13 percent between 2017 and 2018, from 67 percent to 80 percent,” per the report. “The Value of Water national poll also finds water infrastructure is a topic that consistently resonates nationally. No other topic the Campaign polls, such as funding for national defense or immigration, receives nearly as much broad, bipartisan support.”
The Value of Water Campaign also provides a “What’s the Value of Water?” toolkit with messaging guides and advertising collateral. The progress report said that this has been downloaded over 3,000 times since 2015 and that 80 percent of those who have downloaded it said they changed the way they communicate about water.
The report also shared progress on the Value of Water Campaign’s efforts around events. It joined the Infrastructure Week steering committee in 2016 and reported that participation has grown from 150 groups in 2015 to 420 groups in 2018. Another event designed to grow national education and awareness around water, Imagine a Day Without Water, grew from 185 participants in 2015 to 1,104 participants in 2018.
Finally, the report noted that the Value of Water Campaign’s annual television and radio media tours reached over 28 million viewers and listeners between 2015 and 2018.
“Investing in water infrastructure is a precondition to overcoming the many, unprecedented water challenges on the horizon,” the reported concluded. “Together, we can make water infrastructure challenges visible and persuade policymakers to protect communities, the economy, the environment, and the nation as a whole.”
To read more about the infrastructure challenges facing the water industry, visit Water Online’s Water Loss Solutions Center.