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In the farm community of my youth, my grandfather's generation had cleared their land, built their homes, and dug wells to provide water for their families. Rural electrification enabled pumping the clear, pure water into their homes.

Over the years, wells were dug deeper to continue the flow of the sweet, pure water I took for granted. No filtration or chemicals were necessary for many decades.

I now live in a city where, thanks to Central Arkansas Water, we are blessed with excellent water resources and an efficient wastewater system. Hearing of the situation of Flint, Mich., where water is contaminated, or disaster areas where there is no sewage treatment, makes us aware of the advantages of the convenient services and good health we enjoy daily in Arkansas.

Failure of these systems may, hopefully, be restored quickly; but at much greater cost than maintenance and improvements before a crisis occurs. Arkansas Sen. John Boozman has introduced legislation that rejects the "fix-as-fail" approach currently used to upgrade our water infrastructure.

This bill enables states to provide funding for cities and communities of all sizes to secure loans for improvement of their crumbling infrastructure, attacking the more than $500 billion shortfall for funding vital drinking water and wastewater system improvements.

Above my desk is a framed quote: "No water, no life. No blue, no green." Our Arkansas Natural Resources Commission works to assure water quality relating to the health of our state's streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands as a critical component of wildlife habitat. As a result, Arkansas is the duck hunting capital of the world, a deer-hunter's paradise, as well as home to the bass, catfish, trout and crappie fishing we all enjoy.

As chair of the Environment and Public Works' Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water and Wildlife, Senator Boozman has introduced a bill which secures funding for the preservation and improvement of the processes which protect our natural surface and ground water, while assuring the proper re-entry of wastewater into our system of water resources.

This Senate bill is bipartisan and has become bicameral, with similar legislation introduced in the House. It provides leveraged funding of $50 billion over five years in secured loans to benefit communities both large and small. It is named the Securing Required Funding for Water Infrastructure Now (SRF WIN).

Its passage will be a WIN-WIN for Arkansas, and for our nation.

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Carol P. Williams is executive director of Land Trust of Arkansas.

Editorial on 05/11/2018

Print Headline: Water of life

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