VOORHEES, N.J. — Calling water facilities one of the “quiet” fibers of a community’s fabric, Suzanne Chiavari, vice president of engineering at New Jersey American Water, addressed a State House public hearing on the topic of water infrastructure management and financing. The hearing was sponsored by the New Jersey Clean Water Council (CWC) to seek comments on its Draft Recommendations for Water Infrastructure Management and Financing white paper.
In supporting the CWC paper’s positions, Chiavari commended the CWC for taking on the water infrastructure issue. “We must remember that it was built by thousands of laborers over decades. It is maintained by thousands of dedicated workers today,” she said. “We are the beneficiaries of their dream and we have a responsibility to carry their legacy forward and not let the infrastructure crumble because of neglect or poor management.”
Chiavari made three points in her testimony to the Council:
• While investment in maintaining and upgrading physical assets is critical, investment in sound managerial and engineering practices is even more so. “Sound decision making is crucial to making every dollar invested work as hard as our people do,” Chiavari said.
• Each of the millions of pumps, pipes, valves, plants, et cetera that makes up the state’s water systems requires maintenance and eventual replacement. Sound management of these assets, along with system-wide planning, energy conservation, water conservation, and innovative technologies will all contribute to sustainability.
• The concept of full-cost pricing is needed to send a clear signal to consumers to take action to secure the long term sustainability of their water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure. “The value of water and wastewater service is tremendous but most people give it little thought,” Chiavari said.