Straight from the Tap

Dinner Table Topic: Infrastructure Matters


As we went around the dinner table discussing our upcoming week, I shared with my family that I would be helping to inform our customers about infrastructure in honor of Infrastructure Week May 16–23, 2016. My daughter asked, “What is infrastructure?”

I initially tried to explain it using the on-line dictionary definition, that infrastructure is the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, to which my daughter followed up with, “Oh, you mean like roads, bridges and airports?”

“That’s part of it, but for Cleveland Water, infrastructure is so much more than that. Cleveland Water’s infrastructure is all of the underground pipes, pumps, towers, and buildings that bring water from Lake Erie to that glass of water you’re drinking.”

As we continued to eat, I explained how our intakes draw raw lake water through huge pipes into four different water treatment plants where it goes through several steps to make it safe, quality drinking water. We talked about the 5,200 miles of water mains that weave their way underground from each of our plants to the streets of 80 different communities. She was amazed to learn that the Cleveland Water System is the 9th largest in the U.S. and that those water mains, end-to-end, would stretch from Quicken Loans Arena to Athens, Greece. We even discussed just what it takes to keep the system going – from staff to budget to electricity and more.

I actually think she gained a new appreciation for the hard work that goes into maintaining our infrastructure that night.  


After sharing the somewhat lengthy dinner table discussion with my colleagues, we thought it might be helpful if we celebrated Infrastructure Week by talking about the importance of our water infrastructure to your own dinner table. Water is so much a part of our everyday lives. The infrastructure it takes to bring it to our taps really matters to how we live. So, I’m happy that we took a moment to recognize that, because like the infrastructure itself, it lays the foundation for everything to follow.

Gia McCants

Cleveland Public Utilities Communications