Founding Principles

A healthy community is made of good stewards, good citizens and good neighbors.

It’s Oct. 6. I’m finishing up this column, the last piece of the last issue of Municipal Sewer & Water for 2020. And what a strange year it’s been.

I have no idea where things stand as you read this. That’s one of the challenges of trying to be topical and current when you’re writing a column two months in advance. But I hope things are calming down. And I do hope the incredible polarization of virtually every issue is ebbing and we’re starting to invest more in finding — and serving — the common ground.

Part of that, I hope, is investing more in water and wastewater infrastructure for a healthier future.

If your candidate won, congrats. But remember, the people across the political divide are still your friends, neighbors, family members and fellow citizens. They aren’t really the other side at all. They’re all people, with the same basic wants and needs. You still depend on them for everything from medical care to car repair, and they still depend on you for the important roles you play in your communities.

I’m not here to talk about my politics other than to say, politics really shouldn’t be a part of everyday life. Who you voted for and what you believe in is no more or less valid than who I voted for and what I believe in. That’s what makes this country great. We don’t all have to follow the same religion or pledge unwavering support to a supreme leader. We can be who we are and aspire to whatever we want to be. Those are founding principles. We should all have the room to learn and grow, to improve ourselves and to contribute to the greater common good. That’s citizenship, and it’s a responsibility we all share equally.

Some people say government should be run like a business. But it isn’t a business. The bottom line isn’t really the measure of success. The health and well-being of the people should be the real focus. And in that way, I say government should be run more like a municipal utility.

Your job is about serving that common good. And it’s a two-way street. You expect good citizenship from your customers, too. You want them to conserve water, dispose of cooking oil responsibly and keep trash out of the storm sewer system. Those things benefit all of us, and while it may at times be a thankless mission to keep your systems operating efficiently, it is critically important and it affects those who pay no attention just as much as those who champion your mission.

Do politics play a role in regulation and oversight? Of course they do. But making sure your communities have clean water isn’t political. Preventing sanitary sewer overflows isn’t political. Being good stewards of our resources, good citizens and good neighbors isn’t political either. It’s just the right thing to do.

That’s how a healthy community works. We’re all in this together so let’s all do our part to make it better.

Enjoy this month’s issue. 

Comments on this column or about any article in this publication may be directed to editor Luke Laggis, 800-257-7222;


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