The following is written by Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow:
Have you ever been to one of those pioneer villages? If you haven’t, think about how much life would be different without the conveniences and infrastructure we use but don’t necessarily see. We’d have to pump water by hand, or visit a well or creek. We’d have to use an outhouse and get used to raw sewage running down our roads in front of our houses. And just think about the challenge of crossing a muddy street in the rain. Utilities go unseen and when they work well, as they do in Sumner, it’s easy to forget they even exist.
As we continue to build the biennial budget, we also look at our utility funds and the rates needed to meet growing demands and requirements. It occurred to me that we don’t talk enough about the cost of NOT having good infrastructure. We are truly blessed that when we turn on the tap, clean, good water flows. When we wash something down the drain, it safely gets treated before returning to nature. When it rains hard, water flows through drains and is treated before returning to the rivers without pooling all around town.
The cost of not keeping up our utility infrastructure can’t be found in a spreadsheet. It would be ruined rivers, decrease in our general health, and beyond inconvenient to use alternatives, let alone the huge costs of fixes and penalties. Older cities on the East Coast are discovering the real challenge of infrastructure that was not kept up, largely because it’s not something you see every day. Our budget is an investment in our future, even in those parts we can’t see. Our budget is also a commitment that we will continue to take care of life’s most overlooked but valuable services.