This question has been asked a couple times on on-line discussion groups. It usually results in a short list of answers. In the last post, I outlined the number one answer – getting a handle on failing infrastructure. The next issue has to do with water supplies. You hear the argument that we need to get people to respect that drinking water as a limited resource, develop where water supplies are plentiful as opposed to arid regions that are water poor and protecting water sources instead of rendering it unusable in the process of using it. People (and their jobs) are moving to “more favorable” (read: warmer, more arid) climates, so people are now actually trying to grow rice and develop golf courses in the deserts of the Southwest US and complaining about “drought” conditions. The sustainability of groundwater supplies is often noted as a problem because much of the west relies on groundwater for agricultural irrigation. Having a 50 or 100 year management plan for an aquifer, which is how to insure there is water to last 50 or 100 years, is shortsighted, even though it doesn’t sound like it. Long term these areas could run out of water which will create significant economic impacts to these communities. More professionals should be involved in this discussion: regional growth planners; federal and state funders that offer ‘incentives’ to businesses to relocate their workers; city and county governments that accept these ‘incentives’ to beef up their budgets.
But just as cities market their community to developers and industry, it is interesting that marketing services is another issue. I had a conversation where an elected official said it was inappropriate for government to market. Yet the bottled water industry does, power companies do, and cell phone companies do. Utilities ignore the people that put fliers on houses asking our residents to take a sample of their water, and then attacking the quality of our drinking water by explaining that having calcium and chlorine in the water is bad, should have been addressed long ago. Of course calcium and chlorine are in the water! Chlorine disinfects the water and then keeps the distribution system clean (especially an issue in warmer climates with TOC in the water). Our public is uneducated and we have been out-marketed for scare dollars for 40 years. That is an elected official, but also a water official problem.