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I was moved by your latest article regarding water-quality problems in Denmark. Many communities across our state struggle with the ability to maintain high-quality water within their water-distribution systems. This is caused by very old underground water pipes that were installed when the water systems were constructed, in some cases, as far back as the mid-1800s.

Can you imagine using a tool developed over 100 years ago? Naturally it would be inadequate for its intended purpose. Across our state, water customers each month pay for only two essential components, purity and pressure. They want water that tastes good and looks good. I sympathize with both the public and water system operators in our state. I retired in 2006 from one of the top water system operations in our state. Orangeburg should always be proud of the Department of Public Utilities’ team and continue to encourage and support their efforts.

How can companies (public water systems) tackle the problem of aging water system infrastructure? Please remember these old pipes are now under miles and miles of downtown street beautification projects, four-lane roadways, curbing and sidewalk modifications, newly constructed bridges and overpasses, to mention a few.

Water main rehabilitation and repair can be very costly, but the ageing pipeline issues will not go away. Smart agencies have and will continue to provide finances for needed upgrades. Trust me as a public servant, DPU invested a lot so that customers it serves have the essential services required to have high-quality water.

It is one of the toughest decisions to make on where the money goes because it is not an unlimited source. Consider the roadway rehabilitation we are all aware of. Financing is partially though the gasoline tax. We see this every time we purchase fuel.

Water customers across our state should expect the same fees to be applied to the monthly water bill. Which is more important? Gasoline you can do without somewhat, or water that is essential to your health?

Community planners must try to think out of the box and find ways to finance critical infrastructure repairs of our aging water systems. A nationwide survey conducted by Missouri University shows the public is more willing to pay for improved water quality than other ecosystem services.

The establishment of regional water systems in our state is inevitable. Larger water systems have the resources readily available to aid smaller water systems. Mutual-aid agreements between water systems were established for emergencies long ago. These agreements are in place and used as need arises.

Locally, mergers of smaller water systems have taken place within Orangeburg County. The regionalization of water systems in our area is evolving before our eyes.

Only a very few facts have I mentioned. This is a common challenge faced by all water system operators in our state and beyond. This is a national challenge also.

The degradation of water systems caused by aging infrastructure is very common. Water purveyors in our state must tackle this issue using their skills and the talents of their workforces.

William David Zorn Jr. is owner of Zorn Consulting LLC of Cope.


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