This editorial letter originally appeared in November 2020 issue as "Keep Pressing Forward"
As I write this, the race for the presidential election is starting to hit its peak. It seems safe to say that the regulatory trajectory of water and wastewater could be significantly impacted by the outcome of the election. The problem? We have little idea what the candidates’ platforms and policy specifically regarding water are.
The Trump Administration in its first term has deregulated several policies directly and indirectly impacting water and wastewater utilities, and it seems safe to assume continued deregulation would occur should Trump assume office for a second term. As for Biden, the closest thing to a water policy are his plans for climate change, which highlight the increasing devastation of extreme storm events as well as wildfires in the Western U.S., specifically California.
Both candidates have voiced the importance of rebuilding or repairing domestic infrastructure—buildings, water, transportation and energy—but a platform with a direct call to action on water issues is something we have not seen. In following industry professionals on social media, namely Twitter, the idea of creating a national water strategy has popped up and could gain some steam.
I think we as an industry are better poised than ever to make the case for something so vast and all-encompassing. The coordination between associations and industry professionals to reach the ears of legislators in Washington D.C. has never been more present and prevalent in my time with Water & Wastes Digest. Open dialogues are had with U.S. EPA officials regularly, and those officials also address industry workers directly at tradeshows and through association webinars (check out the virtual American Water Works Association and Water Environment Federation events for great sessions).
The transition to a digital environment this year has flattened the landscape and seemingly increased access to the people with whom we need to raise this issue.
So regardless of the election’s outcome, I hope we as an industry continue these coordinated efforts and establish ourselves as an ever-present force in the minds of Congress to ensure public safety and health well into the future. Because water is life.