As Texas cities experience an increase in incidents associated with water quality contamination, the need for public education and engagement increases. The discussion in this paper identifies, based on publicly available data, three of the most common incidents in Texas related to drinking water and environmental contamination: boil water notices (BWNs), sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs), and lead in drinking water. Trends observed from 2011 to 2016 indicate a sharp upward increase in the incidents of such events. Increased frequency of incidents that threaten water quality often erodes public trust in the city and utility, thus making it more difficult in the long term to get public support for increased investment in water and wastewater infrastructure. The recommendations in this study focus on how to manage communications when events associated with water quality create a public relations challenge for city and utility leaders.
Read more in this issue of The Texas Water Journal.