While a sweeping federal infrastructure plan aims to improve the country’s water supply systems – from drinking water to wastewater to water harvesting projects, University of West Virginia scientists agree that access and quality remain a most pressing need for rural communities.
“Access to high-quality drinking water and adequate resources for treating wastewater are essential for community health and economic prosperity, especially in rural communities. Much of the underground water and wastewater infrastructure in the United States is currently in service well beyond its intended lifespan, and significant replacement and rehabilitation of this infrastructure is required.
“Aging water infrastructure is often characterized by leaking pipes and high rates of loss of treated water passing through drinking water distribution networks. Significant investments are needed to support the maintenance of these systems and expand access to communities that currently lack water and sanitation services.
“Rural communities are particularly vulnerable to the challenges of maintaining water and sanitation infrastructure, as they often serve populations spread over large service areas and in the Appalachians, where rugged topography presents challenges. to locate leaks, perform maintenance and install new pipelines.
“There is also a pressing need to invest in our country’s water workforce, as many of our water professionals are expected to retire over the next decade, often taking with them years of institutional knowledge of local water supply systems. Programs and resources to recruit, train and retain the next generation of water professionals are badly needed. – Emily Garner, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, West Virginia University.
“As members of the WVU Bridge Initiative, we have identified a number of water infrastructure needs including, but not limited to:
Improve / launch economic development activities related to water (intra and interstate),
- economic development around leisure,
- economic support for infrastructure towards pollutant-free surface water,
- economic support for drinking water, sanitation and hygiene,
- plan to mitigate future flooding,
- economic investment in municipal river infrastructure (drinking water, wastewater, etc.) and treatment facilities. – Jason Hubbart, Professor and Director of the Institute for Water Security and Science, Professor of Hydrology and Water Quality, Davis College of Agriculture, Resources and Natural Design, West Virginia University.
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