PUF’s Steve Mitnick Visits American Water
Steve Mitnick is Editor-in-Chief of Public Utilities Fortnightly and author of the book “Lines Down: How We Pay, Use, Value Grid Electricity Amid the Storm.”
Water might be called the "hidden utility." It can be taken for granted. If the lights don't come on when we flip the switch or the gas stove doesn't light when we want to cook dinner, it's an immediate problem for our household. Our water supply, it seems, is different. It's always there, for most of us in the United States in the twenty-first century. It's not a problem unless there is a system failure of some kind.
But as American Water CEO Susan Story points out in our interview, water is more essential to life than anything else. We can get by without microwaves and even without hot water. But life itself depends on clean water that we can drink safely. That puts water in a special category.
PUF Editor-in-Chief Steve Mitnick spent a day with Susan Story and members of the American Water team, learning how strongly they feel about their mission:
Susan Story, President and CEO: "Our customers see water fall from the sky: they think it must be free. They don't think about what it costs to treat it, then get it to their homes."
Dr. Ben Stanford, Senior Director, Water Research and Development: "We developed a process that lets you lower the aeration cost, lower the amount of air you're putting into the water."
Tour of a Water Plant: PUF's Steve Mitnick toured the Delaware River Regional Water Treatment Plant with Eric Hahn, Production Manager, New Jersey American Water. Hahn described how water is collected, treated and transported.
American Water — Kidnapped to Stop Safe Water: In 2000, terrorists in Colombia kidnapped Angelita Fasnacht, an organizer working to provide safe drinking water.