(Eddie Mayfield is the President of EMA, a company specializing in Electronic Motor Controls with particular expertise in Water and Water Treatment facilities)
I had the opportunity to visit St. Petersburg and Moscow a few years ago. Both are beautiful cities, much nicer than I anticipated. St Petersburg, with its beautiful art and history is striking. I was amazed at how picturesque Red Square in Moscow was. Both cities were great to visit, the people were wonderful, and I hope to return.
But both cities had something else in common; you couldn’t drink the water from the faucets. In fact, we were warned by the 4 star hotels not to even brush our teeth with tap water. That isn’t unique to these two cities, a number of major cities around the world have undrinkable water.
Clean water is something we take for granted here in the United States. To be sure you occasionally hear of contamination, but its almost always following a disaster of some sort, and short lived.
You must credit the United States water and waste water treatment industry. Here in Gwinnett County Georgia, waste water treatment stations brag that you can drink the water directly flowing from their plants. (I’ve never done it.. but I have seen operators do it to make a point)
It wasn’t always that way. Many U.S. Cities suffered from poor water quality, and from the accompanying diseases, but that was more than a generation ago. To the credit of the American people, we resolved that problem with technology and planning.
The technology for treating water and waste water is common. The industry is always looking for new and better methods, but the basics are well known.
So why do so many countries seem to have problems with what most Americans regard as a given?
First of all, drinking water treatment cannot be isolated from waste water treatment. Keeping the fresh water supplies unpolluted means you can provide drinking water with very little treatment. If you dump untreated sewage in a river, you will have a very difficult time treating that water on a large scale.
There are a number of other reasons. Many fresh water sources are controlled by more than one government, and those governments don’t always cooperate. It does one country no good to carefully treat the waste water flowing into a fresh water source if the other does not.
Poor countries have difficulty financing the infrastructure necessary to treat water on a large scale. I remember flying into Mali in West Africa years ago sitting next to a missionary doctor. He said that the prevalence of disease there was directly related to contaminated water. Mali is an arid country to begin with, so water shortages exacerbate the pollution issue. Mali is also a poor country and simply lacks the resources to construct water treatment facilities at scale.
Even here, in the United States, we have to be vigilant to be sure that our water remains clean. The battle never stops. As populations increase and put more pressure on fresh water sources, we must do an even better job of waste and water treatment. We should also continue efforts to conserve water.
Our company, EMA Inc. supplies medium and low voltage Variable Frequency Drives to the water and waste water industry and provides both repair and preventive maintenance services to keep them running. This equipment is essential to keeping these plants running, keeps our fresh water sources clean, and provides reliable clean water to American homes.
We all enjoy talking about America’s greatness, and part of that greatness is clean water. We salute the men and women that treat our water.