As part of our budget for 2017, Norwich Public Utilities (NPU) will continue to make substantial investments in our water infrastructure to assure a healthy and safe supply for our community and region for many years to come. And while paying for these types of investments are not always popular or easily understood, that does not make them any less essential.
I recently read an article that references a study from the Congressional Budget office that federal spending on water utilities has dropped 75% since 1977, while the U.S. population has grown by 100 million during this same time. As a result, cities and states are required to fund water and wastewater services on a scale previously unimagined.
The growing environmental and health crisis in Flint, Michigan is the result of years of critical projects being underfunding or ignored and tragically misguided cost cutting by federal and state officials.
Here in Norwich, we have taken a different approach. NPU is in the midst of more than $22 million of improvements to our water infrastructure, work that was being planned, designed and in many cases well underway before the situation in Flint came to light.
The work to modernize our water infrastructure began in 2010 and includes several projects that will help NPU continue to meet all federal and state regulatory requirements. And just as we expect these standards to become more stringent in the years ahead, we will continue to make the necessary investments to keep the water supply for our community safe for generations to come.