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There is no one solution to the issue of water shortages. If the discussion is about helping people get fresh water, most will initially think of water wells as the primary solution. Water wells will solve problems where groundwater is available and if it can be accessed. There are many areas where numerous issues prevent a water well from being a viable solution. There are also issues of polluted waterways, whether by manufacturing, human defecation or livestock and farm chemicals. We need to work together to solve these problems wherever possible.

A big obstacle in solving some of these problems is the lack of research. A good friend, who is the head of training for a major manufacturer, reminded me that our industry has the best engineers in the world. These engineers are distributed worldwide. My friend’s corporation has plants in dozens of countries. With today’s technology, we could develop a system to gather information utilizing numerous resources, such as satellite imaging to locate water. After the location is confirmed, the chemistry needed to identify and pretreat water could be determined. Much of this technology could also be used to identify land ownership, right of ways and access to places needing help often without leaving home. We can’t depend on our government to solve these problems. The EPA is doing what they can here at home and falling further behind daily.

02 PM 0723 Guest Editorial Ratliff

Image courtesy of David Ratliff

We as representatives of the plumbing industry need to pull together. We will need business owners, suppliers, engineers, manufacturers, travel agents, printing companies, recruiters, IT professionals and educators to develop a system that can raise funds. These funds are needed to pay qualified people to travel to a destination with a working plan. With materials and experienced technicians in place, a plan can be implemented efficiently and with the least expense while training a local individual to maintain that system. If that sounds like too much for one business, you are correct. A single company cannot do this, it will take an army. We, as an industry, are that army.

Though money does not solve all the problems, it certainly goes a long way and is necessary. Developing a charitable organization with a logo (perhaps the name World Water Resources) that can be utilized by participants in the industry might be a way to start. With a dedicated group, brainstorming could provide ways to fund this charity. Perhaps a program where manufacturing would charge a couple of additional dollars for water-saving fixtures, faucets, filters or anything using water.

Plumbing companies could support the group by buying decals for their service vans advertising (what might be called World Water Resources). Maintenance agreements with the logo and a portion of the fees applied to aid the water crisis. A plumbing company could offer a free home inspection with every premium World Water Resources maintenance agreement sold. These inspections would also benefit the company by locating outdated cast iron piping, inefficient old water closets, water leaks from old galvanized pipe and any number of other needed repairs. The service company will make money on the repairs and the charity will benefit from the added price to the agreement and the sale of new efficient equipment that is installed.

The plumbing industry can make a difference in the world of contaminated water while cementing our reputation as a trade that is wanting to improve our world and make a difference in the quality of life for many.

As my friend said “It takes people with a deep commitment to make something like this work.” The previous example is just a couple of ideas that could be implemented to provide funding. It is going to take money, time, imagination and commitment to turn away the threats associated with poor water supply. The plumbing industry can make a difference in the world of contaminated water while cementing our reputation as a trade that is wanting to improve our world and make a difference in the quality of life for many.

Someone once said a picture is worth a thousand words. I have a few pictures I would like you to see. I can write the words but a picture often makes the issue real. Think of your children and grandchildren living, swimming and drinking this water. This may be hard to imagine in our world, but every day we see more disasters and problems arising.

If you would like to contribute to this conversation, feel free to contact me at