Arizona Water Professionals...They Deliver
By Warren Tenney
Water is essential for life. It is engrained into our daily lives and is part of almost everything we do. Yet we tend to forget the complex process and the extensive team of people it takes to get safe and secure water to our tap.
Your city's water professionals – from plant operators and utility workers, to chemists and inspectors - team up daily to utilize policy and economics, science and engineering, muscle and skill, to get water into your home 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Without this diverse team of water specialists that simply would not happen. Operators, lab specialists and utility technicians are also busy in the field learning about treatment techniques, regulations and standards so they can better serve you, their customers.
In total, the ten AMWUA cities work diligently to provide water to 3.5 million people in the Valley. They have a diverse supply of water sources including the Salt and Verde Rivers, Colorado River, reclaimed water, unused water stored underground, and groundwater. However, having these water supplies is only the start. The cities are responsible to then take that water, treat it to Federal drinking standards, move it through miles of pipe, and deliver it safely to homes, schools, medical facilities and local businesses.
The AMWUA cities have invested in extensive infrastructure to ensure water is delivered to you every day of the year. Collectively, they deliver nearly 800,000 acre-feet of water annually through 18,000 miles of water distribution lines (the distance to fly from JFK to LAX more than seven times). Between them, they operate 28 water treatment plants and maintain more than one million water meters, 400,000 water valves, and 135,000 fire hydrants. The water infrastructure throughout this Valley is vast and shows the magnitude of what is involved in the delivery of your water.
There is no doubt that it takes a very talented, dedicated team of people to ensure operations run smooth. In the ten AMWUA cities that total team roster is more than 2,500, which highlights how vital water professionals are to the delivery of water to your tap. Those professionals in your city are always there when you need them. Whether it’s to answer your questions about water, quality testing, water rates and billing, the efficient use of water, free water conservation classes, water conservation rebates, or to fix water leaks in the street. The list of specialties that are needed to provide safe and secure water to our cities is diverse.
In celebration and acknowledgement of every one of those individuals the inaugural Arizona Water Professionals Appreciation Week is being held this week (April 14-20). This recognition was initiated to recognize water professionals’ role in clean and sustainable water supplies, draw attention to career opportunities in the water industry, and increase awareness of Arizona’s unique water resources. This is an important effort to show appreciation to the men and women who are dedicated to delivering water.
The AZ Water Association, will host their 92nd Annual Conference and Exhibition during Arizona Water Professionals Appreciation Week, which is a three-day program designed to provide professional development, continuing education, and technology transfer to support their vision of “a vibrant Arizona through safe, reliable water.” The association, which represents 2,700 water/wastewater professionals across the State, is dedicated to preserving and enhancing Arizona's water environment. Their members include operators, engineers, scientists, technicians and managers from public and private water utilities. Members come from small community utilities with as few as two employees and big-city systems with hundreds, such as the AMWUA cities. All of which are key team members in the water world and highlights the diversity needed to deliver every drop of water we use.
There is no doubt that safe and reliable water depends on each of these professionals with varied skills to operate and maintain water distribution and wastewater collection systems. In an emergency or disaster, these workers are also part of the community’s first responders to ensure we have the water we need.
We are grateful for their dedication every day of the year because without that team of water experts, the reliability and safety of our water would not exist. However, the inaugural Arizona Water Professionals Appreciation Week is a perfect time for us to recognize all those men and women of water, their commitment, passion and dedication. And we hope you will do the same.
For 50 years, Arizona Municipal Water Users Association has worked to protect our member cities’ ability to provide assured, safe and sustainable water supplies to their communities. For more water information visit www.amwua.org.
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