This week’s blog is written by Marilyn Hall, Water Conservation Coordinator for Athens-Clarke County, GA
We all need clean water to survive, and we wouldn’t have clean water without our water professionals. These men and women work for water 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They clean and deliver drinking water to more than 36,000 homes and businesses, collect and treat wastewater for more than 27,000 customers, protect all of us from floods, and help to keep our waterways clean.
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to personally thank a water professional!
Athens-Clarke County employs more than 200 water professionals who are dedicated to protecting and managing our water. I hope you will take the time to think about them the next time you enjoy a glass a water, flush the toilet, drive on flood-free roads, or splash in the river. Without them, we would not have the water we need to drink, fight fires, fuel our economy, or enjoy our quality of life. The Georgia Legislature recognized their importance when they designated the first Monday in May as Water Professionals Appreciation Day. Happy Water Professionals Day!
Water professionals have been working in Athens for a long time!
In 1880, a private water company built the first water works in the City of Athens. In the early 1890s, after years of complaints from the local residents, the city ended the private water company’s franchise and constructed a municipal water works. The first municipal water system had a capacity of 1 million gallons per day (MGD) and 16 miles of water lines serving a limited area of the community. Today, our water system has the capacity to produce 36 MGD, with about 790 miles of water lines delivering high-quality drinking water to about 98% of our population in Athens-Clarke County. Water treatment is far more complex and the technology far more advanced than in the 1890s, but one thing has not changed – the importance of water to us all and the dedication of the individuals who provide it.
What about after the water is used?
We all know how much we depend on water in our everyday lives. Once you send water down the drain, it needs to be cleaned and recycled – this historically has been described as wastewater treatment. Now, because of the large advances in treatment technologies and regulations in the federal Clean Water Act, we reclaim, refresh, and return the water you have used.
The process is called water reclamation, because “reclaiming” means to bring the water back to its usable condition. The high quality water produced by our water reclamation facilities can be used in irrigation and safely returned to our waterways. We reuse it within our water reclamation facilities for daily operations, cleaning of facility equipment, and irrigation on the property, which cuts down on costs and conserves water.
There is more to water than tap and sewers.
Stormwater is water that runs off roofs, driveways, and streets into our storm drains. On its way, stormwater picks up chemicals and pollutants that contaminate our waterways. The Environmental Protection Agency has found that stormwater (non-point source pollution) is the number 1 leading cause of pollution in today’s streams, rivers, and lakes. The water professionals in our Stormwater Management Program are dedicated to protecting Athens-Clarke County water from the moment it runs off our streets to the moment it reaches our streams. They also protect us from floods by building and maintaining the system of stormdrains throughout our county.
Want to learn more?
The Athens-Clarke County Water Conservation Office provides workshops, school programs, tours, and other opportunities for residents to learn about water. The Water Conservation Office also facilitates conservation policy and code development, is responsible for internal water loss reduction, and ensures adequate water supply is available in the future.
Go to http://www.athensclarkecounty.com/publicutilities to learn more about your water.