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Union City Makes Moves to Improve Water Infrastructure
Infrastructure Week: Investing in Our Water Future
You may not be aware, but May 13-19 is Infrastructure Week, an opportunity for people nationwide to reflect on and celebrate the role and importance of infrastructure for our economy and communities. As a rule, infrastructure hums along in the background for busy Americans who tend to assume that transportation, energy, sanitation and water services will just be there unless and until something goes wrong. But the reality is that investing in sustainable infrastructure is essential to maintain and grow the systems that keep the nation competitive, prosperous and healthy.
Here in Union City, where we average about 51 inches of rain annually, we rely on infrastructure to help manage, convey, store, and treat our water. The challenge and opportunity for Infrastructure Week 2019 is to expand our view of water infrastructure to include not only conventional built systems, but also onsite, localized strategies that serve the same functions – often at lower costs and with broad community benefits. Pipes, tanks, and treatment facilities are vital, of course. The consensus is growing to increase resilience and expand opportunities to become more efficient in our use of water. We have a greater distance to go to ensure that our community has the water it needs to sustain life and the economy in these changing times, and one of the most cost-effective and proven tools to get us there is to double down on our investment in water use efficiency and green infrastructure. We have already initiated the Water Meter Program that helps Union City provide water services in a more efficient way. These automated water meter replacement programs support detection of water loss in the system, such as leaks more quickly, which results in saving water and costs for customers.
In addition to efficient water use, we strive to provide an environment for our citizens to have high-quality access to recreation and open spaces. In a way, every park, water garden, and yard are mini-reservoirs, allowing local utilities to retain water in storage systems and efficiently manage stormwater. Supplementing and integrated with our extensive built infrastructure, investments in these onsite and localized systems stretch existing supplies, restrict conventional built systems’ expenses, and limit the impact of future droughts on homes and businesses. Moreover, this kind of “distributed” water infrastructure is one of the best ways for local water providers to hold down costs, keeping rates affordable for ratepayers.
Which brings us back to Infrastructure Week. In Union City, in addition to the implementation of the Water Meter Program, currently underway is the Mayor’s Park Storm Sewer Rehabilitation Project, which consists of diverting stormwater in order to alleviate drainage problems in the downtown area by rehabilitating the stormwater system. The overall project cost is $359,057.50 which includes pavement replacement, upgraded stormwater piping, green stormwater infrastructure (i.e., bioswales), and a critical part of the project also includes landscaping of the park. The new stormwater pipe is just a small portion of all that was required for the overall improvements for water management and recreational opportunities.
Here in Union City we are proud that we are investing in our future with the Water Meter Program and incorporating green infrastructure to manage our stormwater. We believe the reality is that investing in sustainable infrastructure is essential to maintain, grow, and keep Union City competitive, prosperous, and healthy. Come join us at the Mayor’s Park later this year to check out our park upgrades!
Shayla J. Nealy
Council Member for Union City, GA
Director of Infrastructure Programming at Wendel