Time Slips By

You never know what next year will bring, so now’s the time to plan and prepare for whatever it holds.

Spring likes to come late in Northern Wisconsin. It was the very beginning of May when the last of this year’s snow and ice finally faded away.

The thaw reveals all the branches and leaves in my yard, the sand built up in the driveway, and all sorts of other little things that require attention after the long months of winter. It’s similar in many ways to what happens with your water and wastewater systems, especially if you live in a northern climate.

It’s also similar — from a very different perspective — to what’s happening in Nevada’s Lake Mead, where plummeting water levels are revealing everything from sunken boats to dead bodies.

Lake Mead, formed by the Colorado River’s Hoover Dam, is the largest reservoir in the United States by volume and is second only to Lake Powell in surface area. It has enough capacity to hold the entire average annual flow of the Colorado River for two years, according to the National Park Service. When full, it extends 65 miles from Hoover Dam to Pearce Ferry. Its greatest width is 9.3 miles and it has 700 miles of shoreline.

It is a significant body of water to say the least, and its significance extends far beyond its shorelines or those of the river that feeds it. Arizona, California and Nevada depend on it for water. Farming in California’s Imperial Valley is heavily reliant on Colorado River water drawn at the Imperial Dam, downstream of Lake Mead. The Imperial Irrigation District delivers water to over 450,000 acres of cropland.

You don’t have to be in the water industry to understand the significance. Regardless of whether you’ve visited a lush green farm in the desert or can spout statistics about annual flow, we all understand.

What people on the outside rarely understand, however, is the amazing level of technology in this industry, from sewer cleaning nozzles to the Carlsbad Desalination Plant. We can’t make more water, but efforts to improve efficiency with the resources we have will continue to progress because technology and new approaches are driving it forward. Planning, obviously, is key, and that’s where projects like the Carlsbad plant, or the Clear Lake City Water Authority’s Exploration Green stormwater project (featured in this issue) really step into the spotlight. Exploration Green, the seeds of which were sown 17 years ago, is now a nearly 180-acre stormwater detention facility that has solved flooding problems and provides a variety of public amenities.

Thoughtful planning is the hallmark of a proactive and progressive utility. Those are the types of things we like to highlight in this magazine. Ideally you laid plans for this summer construction season well in advance and you’re making headway on whatever system maintenance and improvement projects you have in progress. If not, now’s the time to make sure the next season doesn’t slip by. Hopefully these stories can help.

Enjoy this month’s issue. 


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