As I write this, Americans are flocking to the polls to cast their votes in what has turned out to be one of the most controversial, divisive presidential elections in U.S. history.
News outlets have reported record numbers of people participating in early voting, and the lines at polling places on Nov. 8 stretched out doors and around blocks (including my own—although I arrived just a few minutes after it opened at 6 a.m., there were 26 people ahead of me). Although it is encouraging to see so many people exercising their right to vote and participating in our great democracy, it seems that this election cycle has created an even greater divide between Americans’ opinions on many key issues.
There is one issue that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump agreed on: U.S. infrastructure is in trouble and investment is needed to improve and expand it. Of course, they disagreed on how much to spend and how to go about it.
Clinton’s website vowed that she would “connect our farms, businesses and households to safe and reliable drinking water and wastewater systems.” To do so, she planned to “boost federal infrastructure investment by $275 billion over the next five years,” and create a $25 billion national infrastructure bank to provide funding and loans for infrastructure investments.
Trump’s website described an “America’s Infrastructure First” policy that would include investment in infrastructure and the creation of jobs to build that infrastructure. His vision included developing “a long-term water infrastructure plan … to upgrade aging water systems” and tripling funding for State Revolving Loan Fund programs.
By the time you read this, we will know who the next president of our country will be. Whichever candidate you voted for, let’s all agree to support their effort to find solutions to American’s crumbling water and wastewater infrastructure.
We need look no further than Flint, Mich., for proof that our infrastructure is in trouble. The year began with the story of the lead contamination crisis breaking, and it has been in the news ever since. Although bottled water and filters have been supplied to provide safe drinking water, the crisis has shattered the trust people had in their municipal water systems.
As U.S. infrastructure ages, it is only a matter of time until the next Flint scenario occurs, but this industry can work toward avoiding the next water disaster. Water treatment professionals have the power to advocate for this industry and educate legislators on water contaminants, treatment technologies and strategies like final barrier treatment.