Safeguarding our water: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

Earlier this month, the water supply for over 300,000 people in Charleston, West Virginia was significantly impacted by a spill at an upstream chemical facility. Residents were without running water for days as the local water company worked to ensure the safety of the water that had been compromised by an event and actions beyond their control.

The local water company was able to prevent most residents from drinking contaminated water. A water providers’ primary responsibility is to treat and provide safe and reliable water; and to shield customers from drinking unsafe water – in the event of a contamination. And United Water, similarly, has multiple layers of procedures and safeguards in place at our facilities to prevent that from happening.

But when West Virginia residents were without water for a prolonged time – as the local water company worked to ensure its safety – we were all reminded of the importance of safe, clean and reliable water.

United Water-from its national experience and from the benefit of Suez Environnement’s global experience – offered expert testimony to U.S. Congress on ways to prevent future chemical spills and protect source waters.
United Water supports three key preventative policy measures to safeguard our waterways;
1. Prevent spills and protect water by requiring more robust inspections and controls at bulk chemical storage and manufacturing facilities, particularly those located close to waters that serve drinking water sources;
2. Provide water systems with specific data and information about chemicals that are stored in areas where they might pose the greatest and most immediate risk to drinking water supplies;
3. Ensure prompt notification of a spill that threatens a water supply; water treatment facilities must be afforded timely notification of any spill that occurs upstream in order to help mitigate the most significant risks to the public.

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