CBuilding water and wastewater infrastructure systems to meet the needs of communities is no small feat. It requires leadership, foresight, and follow-through. It requires the collaboration of those who know their assets and potential best—local and regional leaders. This issue of Municipal Water Leader magazine focuses on leaders in Oklahoma, a state that has a demonstrated long-term commitment to growing its economy and, therefore, its water infrastructure. The stories and interviews on Oklahoma in this issue highlight the importance of leadership in creating and implementing long-term visions to help communities and regions grow.
In our cover interview, we talk with Oklahoma City Water Utility General Manager Chris Browning, Engineer Sam Samandi, and Deputy Manager Bret Weingart to discusses how city leadership has helped central Oklahoma and its water supply portfolio to grow over the last 25 years through long-term planning and sound financial policies. By being “business minded,” as Mr. Browning describes it, the water utility is successfully building out its infrastructure to facilitate the city’s growth in a way that is fiscally sound and reasonable for its ratepayers.
Oklahoma Water Resources Board Interim Director Julie Cunningham shares a similar vision from a statewide perspective. One of the missions of the board is to help facilitate water infrastructure financing in the state, which will require an investment of $82 billion to build capacity and rehab aging water infrastructure. Given the can-do attitude of the state’s communities, it is no surprise that Ms. Cunningham is “seeing creative and collaborative ideas as communities reach out to each other and coordinate on water planning” to make that investment.
Chris Gdanski, director of engineering services for the city of Enid, discusses a big project—a 70-mile pipeline— that will help provide water certainty to help grow the city and its neighbors along the pipeline. Ken Komiske, director of utilities for Norman, Oklahoma, talks about his city’s big project—an upgrade to its wastewater treatment plant— and how that fits into the city’s ongoing efforts to address environmental concerns and bolster its water supplies.
Beyond Oklahoma, we hear from Amanda Grint on addressing ice jams in Nebraska. The Papio–Missouri Natural Resources District has worked with local stakeholders for years to combat the floods that creep around winter ice jams. We also have two important law articles that address issues critical to water providers: the ability to make a water transfer without requiring permits under the Clean Water Act and the authority to assess a tax or fee on parcels to which water service is provided. Our final story involves a real innovation: a device that cuts off water discharges from damaged fire hydrants.
We hope you enjoy this issue of Municipal Water Leader. The people highlighted in this issue are all committed to creating the best environment for their respective communities to grow. This magazine applauds that commitment and the leadership they have exhibited in seeing that commitment through.
Kris Polly is editor-in-chief of Municipal Water Leader and Irrigation Leader magazines. He is also president of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations, marketing, and publishing company he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at Kris.Polly@wateretrategies.com