October 18, 2021 –– Grants Pass, OR. On October 21, the Mayor and Council of the City of Grants Pass join elected officials, water utilities, community leaders, educators, and businesses from across the country in recognizing the seventh annual Imagine a Day Without Water. Held every fall, the day serves as an organized effort to educate the public about where water comes from, where it goes, and the challenges local water providers face. It also affirms that clean, accessible, and reliable water is critical to the City and the necessity to rebuild and maintain water systems.
In adopting their Resolution proclaiming Oct. 21 as “Imagine a Day Without Water,” the City leaders reflected on the accomplishments of Grants Pass staff in treating and distributing more than 2 billion gallons of water and managing the treatment plant, 8 reservoirs, 13 pump stations, and 188 miles of water mains. Their efforts supply over 140 gallons of water per person per day to more than 10,477 utility customers.
The proclamation was accepted by Water Treatment Plant Superintendent Adam Smith, on behalf of the city’s water team. Smith thanked the Mayor and Council, saying, “We are going to take this proclamation to heart as we work to replace the existing water treatment plant with a new, resilient facility.” He then shared how meaningful it was for the Council to take time to recognize their efforts. According to Smith, the utility’s goal is “to greatly reduce the likelihood that the City would ever have to experience a day without water.”
The water and wastewater infrastructure that brings water to and from homes and businesses is essential to the quality of life and economic vitality of Grants Pass. Jason Canady, the City’s Public Works director, joined Smith in expressing appreciation. According to Canady, “Water and wastewater providers nationwide are grappling with aging infrastructure. As an example, in America today, a water main breaks every 2 minutes. By asking the Grants Pass community to imagine a day without water, the City can highlight its over 100 years of history in investing in drinking water and wastewater systems. These investments secure a bright and prosperous future. They also help us ensure that such a day never arrives.”
Canady is proud that the City’s officials have taken steps to care for its infrastructure, knowing that many other cities are not as fortunate. He said, “With the property already being cleared, staff and consultants are preparing the final details for a multi-year project to construct a replacement water treatment plant. This plant will provide a plentiful supply of clean, safe drinking water for the next generation of Grants Pass residents.”
He explained that water plant design activities are already underway with the goal of full construction starting in early 2023. “In the meantime,” he noted, “there will be a flurry of activity on the site as work is carried out to complete subsurface investigations, mitigate any potential hazards, install storm water facilities, and secure the site.”
Smith and Canady are excited about the public’s interest in the project and encourage anyone interested to visit the project website.
The Imagine a Day Without Water effort grew from concerns about water infrastructure, first highlighted by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). ASCE prepares a report card for America’s Infrastructure that depicts the condition and performance of American infrastructure in the familiar form of a school report card. Water infrastructure grades are provided for dams, drinking water, inland waterways, levees, stormwater, and wastewater. With much of the nation’s water infrastructure being 100 years old, or older, the 2021 ASCE report found a need for $4.8 trillion to be invested over the next 20 years to maintain a state of good repair.
Given the magnitude of the problem, in 2008, leaders from all of the Water Sectors came together to see what they could do to increase awareness of the problem and prevent catastrophes more commonly associated with less-fortunate nations. The Imagine a Day Without Water effort is just one of the initiatives they have launched. They also, now annually, poll American voters to better understand their opinions about the state of our nation’s water infrastructure and what they view as priorities for action and potential solutions. This year’s poll, conducted by a bipartisan research team, found continued widespread, bipartisan support among voters for reinvesting in critical water infrastructure. Among all the issues polled, the highest single federal priority for voters was ensuring a reliable water supply.