Investing in water infrastructure represents a major challenge and opportunity across the United States. As pipes, plants, and other facilities reach a breaking point, utilities and local leaders must plan and pay for increasingly costly repairs. However, many places have responded with innovative approaches, using new management techniques and modern technologies to deliver water infrastructure that is more cost-efficient, durable, and resilient.

Crucially, these challenges and opportunities do not simply end with the infrastructure itself.

The country’s water workforce is also undergoing change. Similar to millions of other workers involved in infrastructure nationwide, the water workforce is aging, experiencing rapid turnover, and facing a huge gap to fill in terms of hiring, training, and retention — from operators and engineers to accountants and office clerks. At the same time, these jobs offer competitive wages, have lower educational barriers to entry, and consequently provide a pathway to greater economic opportunity for all types of workers across all skill levels.

While many localities — and water utilities, in particular — continue to struggle to fill these positions, some places are leading the charge toward more coordinated, proactive recruitment and training. California’s Bay Area represents one such national leader.

Read the full article about the Bay Area as a model for investing in water infrastructure at the local level by Joseph Kane at Brookings.