What We May Take for Granted the Most

August 2020. Halfway through a badly needed vacation in the North Carolina mountains, I treasured my mornings of hot tea on the balcony as the chill wore off into the warmth of gentle sunshine. That Wednesday morning, I’d completed that particular daily ritual and sat on my chair with a book in my hands.

“Did you get any water?” my husband Steve asked.

“Just five minutes ago,” I replied as I went back to reading.

“We don’t have any water.”

That chilled me. And worried me. No water meant an abrupt end to our vacation. To cut a long story short, a water main had ruptured within the town’s jurisdiction. We went away for the day, and it was fixed by the time we returned.

That incident reminds me of a question I ask in some of the trainings I’ve held as part of my day job.

“When do we notice our water and sewer utilities?”

The summary answer is that we notice our utilities when things go wrong.

Why is that?

We take our water and sewer for granted.

I know I do at times, even though I work in the utility management industry.

Why do we take it for granted?

Our utilities, overall, operate so well that we don’t think about it when we turn on the tap for a shower or flush our toilet. We simply expect it will happen.

What we don’t see is the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. We don’t see the operators who work hard to ensure that the chemistry and biology at our water and wastewater treatment plants stay within the proper boundaries needed for clean drinking water and safe disposal of wastewater. We don’t see the line crews who are constantly working to repair equipment that stands up to constant usage.

We don’t understand how large pumps can be, or how hard they work on a consistent basis.

Rather than understand the work it takes for utilities to function 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, we find it easy to complain when our bills go up a couple of dollars.

That money is put to good use.

How can we remedy this problem?

Take the time to learn about your utility. Take a tour of your water and wastewater plants. Attend meetings of your town’s or city’s governing body. Learn what it takes to run a utility.

Take the time out to thank your utility workers as well. They work hard and sometimes under tough circumstances to deliver those services to us.

My hope is that we won’t take our water and sewer service for granted.

Utilities operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year so that we don’t have to worry about clean drinking water or properly treated wastewater. #authenticity #waterutility #wastewaterutility Share on X

Question: What do you take for granted the most?

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