A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Water We Going to Do About All These Boil Alerts?

A bunch of issues have emerged from our recent struggles with the water supply. Here's a few off the top of my head:
  • The infrastructure is in abysmal shape nationwide. We need to invest in our water supply.  Problems in one place can impact people elsewhere.
  • The infrastructure is vulnerable to both Nature and Man . We need to monitor and assess these vulnerabilities and respond to identified needs as they arise. We can't continue to let events like errant road work or dilapidated, collapsing foot bridges affect the water supply for thousands of people for days or even weeks at a time.
  • The infrastructure is administratively out of control. We need to be able to promptly compartmentalize the individual water systems to preserve water purity and thus avoid county wide boil alerts. We can't blithely continue to share water between systems when one system has been fouled.
  • Local water authorities provide residents with inadequate information about their sources of water. Each municipality needs to post information about where it gets its water and how the municipality is divided geographically if more than one system is involved. While security is a concern, publicly useful information about the system can be safely posted and should be available online. Note that the NJ DEP water management website crashed during this event, so local municipal websites were the only source of information about water systems. And those sites on the whole provided meager resources.
  • Local water authorities provide residents with inadequate guidance when an alert occurs. Posting the county alert is a beginning but fails to provide the granularity that local water users need to make a host of decisions. Re-posting a neighboring town's water alert can be informative but doesn't provide sufficient locally-focused information to serve as a substitute for a locally generated alert. Residents should not have to rely on the media to learn what they need to do. Local authorities need to post detailed guidance on what to do in case of emergency, even how to prepare for an outage.


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