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Jack Hoffbuhr, executive director of the American Water Works Association (AWWA), released the following statement as former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt was sworn in as Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"The 57,000 water professionals of AWWA welcome Gov. Mike Leavitt in his new mission, and we look forward to a strong partnership as we pursue our mutual goal of ensuring safe and sufficient water for all Americans.
"Gov. Leavitt assumes EPA leadership at a moment when Americans are increasingly aware of our collective responsibility to respect and secure the quality and supply of our drinking water. "The drinking water community supports EPA's continued work to minimize health concerns associated with water. We encourage well-reasoned regulatory measures based on the very best science available. We urge Gov. Leavitt to promote and fund continued research that further informs water professionals and leads to more effective drinking water policy.
"The first and most cost-effective way to assure safe water is to protect it at its source. We look forward to collaborating with Gov. Leavitt and EPA to safeguard surface waters from common threats such as erosion, urban and agricultural runoff, and industrial waste. We also value EPA leadership in protecting our precious groundwater aquifers from contaminants and in holding water polluters accountable.
"AWWA's water utility membership has worked successfully in partnership with EPA since 9/11 to safeguard America's water supply against the threat of terrorism. Gov. Leavitt's leadership in this area will be critical as water utilities complete vulnerability assessments, prepare emergency response plans and promote a culture of vigilance throughout treatment facilities and distribution systems.
"Finally, we encourage Gov. Leavitt to be mindful of the state of our country's aging drinking water infrastructure. While AWWA supports rate structures that make water utilities self-sustainable, some inner cities do not have customer bases necessary to maintain and replace large and critical infrastructures. Utilities must work with local, state and federal entities to ensure those communities have access to safe drinking water in the coming years.
"AWWA encourages the tireless pursuit of excellence in water treatment and management among its member utilities and individuals. That commitment is reflected in Gov. Leavitt's home state, where the Utah Valley Water Treatment Plant this year became the second facility in history to receive the prestigious Phase IV "Excellence in Water Treatment" recognition from the Partnership for Safe Water.
"We look forward to working with Gov. Leavitt in the coming years to advance public health, safety and welfare through the water we all share."
AWWA is the authoritative resource for knowledge, information, and advocacy to improve the quality and supply of drinking water in North America and beyond. AWWA is the largest organization of water professionals in the world. AWWA advances public health, safety and welfare by uniting the efforts of the full spectrum of the drinking water community. Through our collective strength we become better stewards of water for the greatest good of the people and the environment.