Just One!

This summer, commit yourself to take one affirmative step toward educating the public and government officials about the importance of water infrastructure

Hats off to all those who take the time to write, speak and educate lawmakers and the public on important issues that affect our industry and our nation’s public health.

Challenges such as lack of appropriate funding and low public awareness aren’t going away any time soon, but I strongly believe each one of us can make a difference in a most positive way. While I’ve talked about this issue in the past, I now invite readers to take action to really make a difference.

On March 14, 2010, an article appeared in The New York Times: “Saving U.S. Water Systems Can Be Costly.” I wrote a letter to the editor on behalf of NASSCO commending the newspaper for shedding light on the importance of helping to educate the public on our out-of-sight/out-of-mind challenges. We need to educate our public that health is threatened when failures in our systems occur — sewer and water infrastructure is a necessity, not a want.

Bend their ears

I knew the odds of getting my letter printed were slim since they receive thousands of letters and only print a handful, but that didn’t discourage me. In fact, I know these letters help give editors and reporters a pulse on key issues. If an editor receives an overwhelming number of letters in response to an article, that often makes him or her look more closely at the issue and often leads to additional articles.

In addition to the press, we need to bend the ears of lawmakers so that they fully understand how vital our industry’s issues are to the nation’s health. Writing a letter to your elected officials is fairly simple and easy.

One good source of advice for writing letters to legislators can be found online at https://writerep. house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml. The more local you can make your issue, the more your voice will be heard.

Writing is one way to be heard, but not the only way. It’s also important to speak about our issues, to network, and to educate yourself and others. Organizations such as NASSCO give us a platform to network, train and become credentialed, educated professionals who can serve the industry better.

This year, NASSCO launched its Just One! membership drive, focusing on how every one of us can make a small contribution to help the entire organization. It’s the “rising tides lifts all boats” philosophy, and I’ve seen it work many times.

Take one step

I’m expanding this Just One! philosophy as an industry call to action. I invite readers to commit to Just One! activity this summer to help educate key publics outside our industry. Here are a few sample activities that you can do:

• Write a letter-to-the-editor in response to articles on pipe bursts, flooding or some other problem related to infrastructure.

• Network with community and state water and environmental organizations.

• Write a letter to your local- or state-elected officials.

• Participate in a local environmental day or festival.

• Speak at a local community college.

• Take part in educational days at local schools.

Over the next three months, I want you to write to me and let me know what you did. I will gladly write a follow-up on what readers are doing to help spread the word about our industry and the need for ongoing support and funding. Thank you for participating. I look forward to hearing from you. E-mail me at director@nassco.org.

Irvin Gemora is executive director of NASSCO. He can be reached at director@nassco.org. The NASSCO headquarters is at 11521 Cronridge Dr., Suite J, Owings Mills, MD 21117.


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