Most people don’t think about how their municipal water supply system functions until something goes wrong. The job of a municipal water district manager is to ensure that things don’t get to that point. And carrying out that task is something that requires long-term thinking and innovation.
In this month’s Municipal Water Leader, we talk to several executives and planners who are working on the longterm tasks of planning for the future and caring for legacy infrastructure. In our cover story, we talk to Tom Kula, the executive director of the North Texas Municipal Water District, which serves two of the top five fastest-growing cities in the country. He’s spent over 10 years getting federal and state permits for a sorely needed new reservoir—and argues that the process could be much faster.
In our other interviews, Robby Bryant of HDR tells us about an exciting new project in Atlanta—an ingeniously designed urban park that is also a large-scale storm water control feature. Warren Tenney, the executive director of the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association, explains to us how his organization works to build consensus among 10 member cities and then amplifies their voices in the state legislature, state government, and regional conservation projects.
We also profile two innovators: Deep Trekker’s robotic pipe crawlers and QuakeWrap’s high-tech construction materials aim to help municipal water suppliers maintain their infrastructure over the long term with increased sophistication and reduced cost.
Finally, the story of the Smoky Hill River Renewal Project in Salina, Kansas, shows how misguided infrastructure projects can cause long-term consequences— and how big-picture, comprehensive plans can help turn them around again. A flood control levee built in the 1960s all but dried up Salina’s Smoky Hill River, leaving the city sitting on the banks of a silty ditch. Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is helping to mitigate the problem and restore the river, a project that promises to have significant positive effects for the city as a whole.
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