The Importance of Community Engagement and Education in Wastewater Management
Most consumers only have a vague knowledge of the wastewater services in their area. They may know the location of the treatment plant, but they need to make the connection between this facility and the water they pour down the drain. This lack of knowledge can make it difficult for local governments to raise money for improvements or work toward conservation efforts. Sharing the importance of wastewater management and treatment with residents is critical to the long-term health of this service.
The Importance of Wastewater Treatment
Clean water is essential for every person, and treating wastewater helps maintain the supply. Removing impurities from sewage prevents diseases and other health issues. The process also preserves the environment, preventing contaminated effluent from damaging sensitive ecosystems. Consumers must realize how different their communities would be without this critical water infrastructure.
Education and the Public Sewer System
Most wastewater management activity happens behind the scenes in underground pipes and out-of-the-way facilities. Residents may only become aware of management efforts when there is a problem. However, consumer behavior and knowledge strongly affect the health of the system.
Establishing Best Practices
Some consumers see their drains and toilets as secondary disposal systems. Once a substance goes down the drain, it is forgotten quickly. Teaching users about proper disposal habits will put less stress on the system. For example, education about the potential blockages caused by a mixture of congealed fats and flushable wipes will prevent service disruptions.
The Real Cost of Wastewater Services
When people do not understand the workings of their sewer system, they are more likely to complain about the cost. Education about the infrastructure involved in wastewater treatment and the benefits of water management will make them more likely to support the cost of maintaining and improving the system.
Water Conservation Efforts
It is not unusual for people to see water as a limitless resource. A clean supply is available every time they turn on a tap. Global water conservation efforts seek to educate the public to understand water as a limited and vulnerable resource. This reality is becoming more apparent in regions affected by climate change. Intentional education will help consumers understand the importance of limiting water use and addressing leaky plumbing.
Protecting the Environment
Consumers may need to understand that the endpoint of wastewater management involves returning clean water to natural water sources like ponds or rivers. Chemicals in the water supply will affect local ecosystems. Educational efforts by wastewater utilities can prevent environmental issues by explaining the proper disposal of hazardous substances.
Connecting Residents to Wastewater Management Efforts
The public sewer system carries a certain stigma, and consumers may want to avoid considering how it works. Wastewater utilities must concerted effort to connect their work with their communities.
When a water utility wants to make improvements, it can cause sewer rates to rise. Open forums with interested consumers can help alleviate complaints about the change. The water utility can explain the purpose of the upgrades so that residents will understand the rise in cost.
Young students are fascinated by what happens after the water goes down the drain. Educational presentations in local schools are an opportunity to explain the basics of wastewater management and encourage water conservation efforts.
Facility Open Houses
Periodic tours of water treatment facilities increase the visibility of the public sewer system. Providing an inside view makes consumers more aware of the treatment process and how their actions affect it. These tours are also opportunities to explain the need for improvements.
Websites and Social Media
Digital resources have made it much easier to connect with residents. Many utilities maintain websites and social media accounts where they can post up-to-date information about repairs along with educational videos.
Water utilities should be aware of their public perception. Online or mailed surveys can provide valuable feedback about how people use and understand the system.
A Partner for Efficiency in Wastewater Management
When residents understand the importance of wastewater treatment for a clean water supply, they are more likely to support infrastructure upgrades. At High Tide Technologies, we are experts at designing cloud-based SCADA systems that improve the efficiency of municipal water collection, treatment, and distribution facilities. Contact us if you would like to learn more about how SCADA technology enhances your water system.