West Virginia American Water tries a new method for shedding more light on how customers’ water bills turn into infrastructure improvements
The adage “out of sight, out of mind” is a particularly common one in the water and wastewater industry. It’s often made when referencing the public education utilities must take on so that customers fully grasp the importance of the infrastructure that lies below the ground — and the manpower and expense that is required to maintain it.
Even with those educational efforts, the figure on a water bill can be blinding for customers, causing them to only consider the money that is coming out of their pockets and not the critical improvements that money is going toward. West Virginia American Water is trying to make it easier for customers to see that direct connection between water rates and infrastructure improvements. The utility recently launched a new web-based interactive map of all of its 2017 infrastructure projects.
“Often our customers do not necessarily see their water bills at work, because we may not be upgrading infrastructure in front of their home, or we may not make it obvious that nearby construction work is a water system improvement rather than a sewer, natural gas or even road improvement,” Brian Bruce, president of West Virginia American Water, told The Herald-Dispatch. “While we try to communicate major infrastructure investments to our customers through mailings and press releases, we developed this map to go the next step and provide details about all of our current projects statewide.”
Users can navigate the map by panning and zooming and see the location of all the projects West Virginia American Water has either completed this year or is currently working on. They can click on individual projects to view the amount of money invested and the length of pipe upgraded.
As more projects begin, they will be added to the map. The utility serves about 577,000 people in 333 communities across the state and plans on investing a total of $62 million into infrastructure replacement in 2017, its most aggressive replacement plan in decades.
Check out West Virginia American Water’s map here.