by Mark Knudson and Kevin Hanway

Washington County residents can take practical steps to safeguard public safety in emergencies

Imagine: No water to drink, fight fires, water crops, shower, or flush the toilet. Some communities in America already have experienced how difficult it can be to go a day without our most precious resource: Water.

Oct. 12 is Imagine a Day Without Water — an opportunity to raise awareness and talk about the value and importance of water in all our lives.

This year, the U.S. has endured 49 separate weather, climate and flood disasters. These events have caused billions of dollars of damage and led to the second most disaster-laden season on record. The majority of these events severely affected water quality and availability.

For Tualatin Valley Water District (TVWD) and the city of Hillsboro, these disasters reinforce the importance of maintenance of water infrastructure and the need for investment in reliable and resilient water systems. Why? So we can restore access to high-quality, safe drinking water and water for fire protection as quickly as possible after an emergency.

Earthquakes are high on the list of natural disasters that can interrupt our drinking water supply. Communities often are without reliable, safe, water supplies following a large earthquake. Restoring water service to hospitals, schools, homes and businesses — as well as for firefighting — can sometimes take months. This is a critical threat to public health, public safety and the region’s economy.

The good news is some new infrastructure is coming.

TVWD and the city of Hillsboro are currently partnering to develop the mid-Willamette River at Wilsonville as an additional water supply source for Washington County by 2026. The Willamette Water Supply Program (WWSP) will design and build a water treatment plant, storage tanks, and more than 30 miles of large-diameter transmission pipeline traveling from Wilsonville to Hillsboro.

This new water delivery system is designed to withstand the impacts of a Cascadia earthquake or other natural disasters so that water service can be restored quickly and our communities can recover sooner. Not only will this new water infrastructure increase the resiliency and reliability of the region’s water supply, but the mid-Willamette River will also become an additional source of high quality water for both TVWD and the city of Hillsboro.

Primary goals of TVWD and the city of Hillsboro are to protect public health and provide customers access to quality water as quickly as possible after an emergency. In addition to their investments in the new WWSP water infrastructure project, TVWD and the city support these goals by investing in maintenance and upgrades of the treatment plants, pumps, pipes, and storage facilities that work seamlessly to deliver water to your tap. These water system facilities are managed by our highly skilled professional staffs who, like the systems they oversee, operate in the background of our busy modern lives. We also are industry leaders that work in partnership with other agencies on regional emergency planning and seismic preparedness.

However, depending on our public institutions to take care of us when disaster strikes isn’t enough. TVWD and the city of Hillsboro call all customers to action.

TVWD and the city of Hillsboro are dedicated to doing our part to strengthen and maintain water infrastructure to bring clean, safe water to customers in the aftermath of a major disaster.

City and TVWD officials encourage area residents to create an emergency response plan and compile personal emergency response kits, with water, food, a first-aid kit and other supplies necessary to keep you and your family going for a minimum of 72 hours.

We hope you will join us in reflecting on the value of water and preparing in advance so a day without water doesn’t become our reality.

Mark Knudson is the CEO of Tualatin Valley Water District and Kevin Hanway is director of the city of Hillsboro Water Department.

Originally posted at PamplinMedia.com