Ahem, Rather, We Need to Fund That Maintenance
The local papers have published enough stories about water management/infrastructure in the last year that it’s clear the issue is gaining traction in the the Lehigh Valley. Just today, the Morning Call reported that a rate hike of 12.7% has been approved in Hanover Township. Another recent story – in the police blotter, no less – involved an underground water line break near the Allentown Symphony Hall, which led to street closings.
It’s a matter that (I’m sure) is going to keep coming up in the next decade – bumps in rates, water main breaks, and multi-municipal negotiations (or lack therof).
The unfortunate fact is that our water infrastructure is aging severely and rapidly. Because it’s hidden, it’s often unintentionally forgotten – at least when compared to the attention given to roads and bridges, seeing as how the deterioration of such infrastructure is easily noticed.
Without upgrades or much maintenance, water emergencies are more likely to occur. Our drinking water is at a greater risk for pollution. Stormwater management will become nearly impossible. And, unfortunately, given that federal funding sources rarely place a high priority on maintenance of existing infrastructure, local municipalities will have to raise fees in order to keep up with the most minimal upgrades. (And contrary to the reader comment on today’s Morning Call story, the rate hike is intended to pay for this bare minimum upkeep).
Without federal or state help on many of these issues, what are local municipalities to do? Well, one possible way of approaching the upcoming problems is to plan for them and work with neighboring towns and cities to develop comprehensive – read: cost-effective – solutions. RenewLV is a proponent of such an approach, as we have been promoting regional cooperation on water and wastewater resource management through our Regional Water Initiative. I invite you to visit our web page for the Regional Water Initiative to learn more about the benefits of regional collaboration – including the possibility of the Valley saving $40 to 60 million each year by 2020.
But community leaders have to voice their opinion on this matter – and not just in the form of opposing tax hikes and fee raises. If these options don’t sound appealing to you, you must tell your local officials to look toward other solutions to infrastructure problems – including raising the idea of multi-municipal or regional cooperative agreements. To be a supporter of RenewLV’s Regional Water Initiative, visit our Join Us page, making sure to check the box next to ‘Water’ when submitting your information.