Even more than flipping on the light switch, we all take getting fresh water delivered right to our bathrooms and kitchen sinks for granted. When a blizzard hits and we lose power, we all understand intuitively that heavy snow or wind has just knocked a tree onto a power line somewhere; it’s obvious.
Perhaps because water service interruptions take place so much more infrequently, it seems to be not as “understandable” when there is no water, as compared to when there is no power.
That’s why we really appreciated reading this yesterday on the web site of the Penobscot Bay Pilot, from reporter Lynda Clancy: “A crew from Maine Water, the public water utility, has located the water line break on Calderwood Lane in Rockport, after spending part of the morning trudging through the snowy woods. A leaking hydrant on Calderwood Lane had indicated a leak somewhere in the line that feeds Beauchamp Point.” And also, “Last week, Maine Water repaired a major pipe — one of the old ones close to 100 years in age — that runs along Route 1 into Thomaston.”
Like the nation’s highways and bridges, U.S. water systems are aging. Like other water companies in the country, one of Maine Water’s most important functions is to continually repair and upgrade our very old water systems.
Occasionally these emergency repair jobs and road construction projects will require some patience on the part of customers and travelers, but as with trees falling onto power lines, sometimes the facts of life have to be faced. According to a 2013 article by Portland Press Herald reporter Randy Billings, “the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2013 Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment estimates that a $384 billion investment will be needed nationwide over the next 20 years to maintain clean and safe public drinking water. In Maine, that investment is expected to be nearly $1.8 billion, according to the EPA.”
So hats off to media members in Maine who report not only that folks are being inconvenienced, but who also take the time to discuss the root causes of these occasional inconveniences. When the general public can grasp the underlying logic of what’s really going on with those pipes under the ground, a service break or roadside construction is just a tad easier to endure.