Leading on Lead: How Addressing Lead Promotes Leadership
Posted on December 28, 2018
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By this point, it should be no surprise to you that we’re a company passionate about creating a lead-free world in the water industry. That’s our mission, we know it well. But what’s yours? As any organization should, we seek to understand the people we strive to serve. What’s keeping you up at night? If you look at mission statements for cities they typically all include some element of quality of life for their community. In addition, every water utility’s focus, in one way or another, is related to public health. Can we agree that every city and every water utility ultimately, per their mission statement, wants to be a leader in creating communities that thrive? As 2018 winds down to a close, we looked back at the past year and pondered how we can help cities address that mission. How can addressing lead promote leadership?
People don’t trust the government. There just seems to be this innate suspicion towards all things government these days. The historical “need to know” communication style of government could be to blame. In most cases, this approach happens simply out of tradition and not nefarious intentions. It’s the way we’ve always done it.
Information and access to information is an important first step to establishing—or re-establishing—trust. Using software and technology to improve access to information about where lead exists in the water infrastructure creates confidence within your community. Leaders like Cathy Bailey, executive director at Greater Cincinnati Water Works, and their use of technology to show live, current GIS locations of lead service lines demonstrates the power transparency has in establishing a baseline of trust with your stakeholders.
Bottom line: Per regulatory requirements, cities aren’t responsible for the lead in private infrastructure. Their responsibility ends at the meter before the plumbing enters your home or business. Some cities, such as Kenosha, WI, are less worried about responsibility and focus on accountability. Kenosha Water director, Ed St.Peter and his team, took an aggressive stance on lead service line removal. The use 120Water technology to maximize the effectiveness on their lead service line inventory. Ed St.Peter also worked diligently with lawmakers to change regulations that hindered their ability to help customers pay for lead service line replacement. The Kenosha Water Department knows they aren’t responsible for the lead service lines of their customers. However, their leadership demonstrates a culture of accountability to the people of Kenosha. Recognizing their role in ensuring the public health of the water supply, Kenosha Water became the first city in Wisconsin to create a grant program to help their customers remove lead from their private infrastructure.
Taking the lead in addressing lead in water demonstrates action. There are solutions that exist for all cities of all sizes. It doesn’t matter where you are on your lead journey. There are affordable solutions you can offer your customers now that demonstrate you’re listening to the concerns of your community. The easiest first step is improving transparency and usability. A software-driven consumer request program streamlines the data and processes that can burden water operators. It also improves the customer experience. This is a win both now and in the future when public approval is needed to move a project forward.
2018 was a whirlwind year for 120Water. The most rewarding part was working in tandem with water utilities and school districts across the country taking the lead on lead in water. Software and technology make addressing lead less of an operational burden on cities. It also demonstrates leadership through transparency, accountability, and taking action on a national public health issue that isn’t going away. Whether you take the lead with or without 120Water is up to you. We just look forward to continuing to be a part of the lead-free movement in 2019 and in years to come.