In Frank Capra’s classic “It’s a Wonderful Life,” a young Jimmy Stuart explains to townsfolk where the money is that they deposited in the bank. The impassioned George Bailey states, “Your money is in Joe’s house… right next door. And in the Kennedy house, and Mrs. Macklin’s house and a hundred others.” George goes on to demonstrate to his bank customers how their “money in the bank” is actually being used to help others to build and improve their homes.
What does this scene have to do with American Water in 2017? Quite a lot, actually. You see, like the bank customers in the movie, it’s challenging for customers to see their “water bills at work” helping communities build, maintain, replace and improve water and wastewater infrastructure. But not anymore, thanks to a fantastic, interactive website tool that allows customers to view details on water infrastructure projects across tens-of-thousands of miles of American Water networks of water and sewer mains.
This infrastructure mapping tool—which was recently launched by American Water subsidiaries in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia—demonstrates how revenue from water bills is at work every day helping to upgrade aging infrastructure. Of course, projects just like these are happening in communities that we serve across the country, not just where the mapping tool is available. When you think of exactly what those upgrades mean to communities served by American Water … well, our customers are doing quite a lot! This includes:
- Delivering water without interruption. Did you know that the average family uses about 250 gallons a day? At eight pounds per gallon – that’s a ton of water delivered to your tap every day!
- Ensuring water entering households and businesses meets or surpasses all regulatory standards. Did you know that you water is tested for over 100 contaminants?
- Advancing water conservation efforts by preventing breaks and leaks. It is estimated that there are about 250,000 water main breaks each year. The investment in new water pipes means that you won’t be left “high and dry!”
- Providing other essential services – including sanitation and fire protection. Did you know that you save on your home-owners insurance when there is reliable fire protection? Tap water is for more than just drinking!
The mapping tool is helpful because most water infrastructure is “out of sight, out of mind.” Sure, sometimes replacing water mains means digging up a street and detouring traffic – but that water pipe will remain in service for 75 to 100 years – or longer! So the water bill that is paid today, means that investments in new water infrastructure can continue for years to come – and the interactive tool makes it easy to see this benefit. Not only does the tool show where projects are happening and have recently been completed, but it also offers details such as the length of pipeline worked on and project summaries, and allows customers to zoom in to get details on a single project that may be happening in his or her neighborhood.
I encourage you to check out the mapping tools that are available now for American Water projects in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia. Then, remember the words of George Bailey and take pride in knowing that, as American Water customers, you are helping to make it a wonderful water life for millions of people across the country!