Election Behind Us, We Keep on Marching Forward

Dec. 1, 2012
I was in the hospital on Election Day having one of my knees replaced.

I was in the hospital on Election Day having one of my knees replaced. My joke to the nurses was that I struggled to decide which knee I should have fixed first. Both the right and left were equally terrible but I had no alternative but to pick one – very much like the presidential election.

In both cases, bum knees and presidents, I made my choice and will now live with the outcome.

On the morning of Nov. 7 and in the days following, there were an amazing number of articles discussing the end of America as we know it. People were talking about moving to Canada or Australia, while others were signing petitions for their state to secede from the union.

For me it was just another day in the life of a Democracy. If you don't like the outcome, just wait a few years and vote for change. And if you want to move to another country, then by all means pack your bags and good luck finding a better place to live.

Our country is deeply divided and has been for years, split nearly 50/50 – at least in the way we vote. Our only option as a country is to accept that we have political differences and do our best to work together for the common good.

In the case of water infrastructure, we face the hard fact that funding from the federal government is fading away. Utilities will have to depend on state and local funding for the foreseeable future.

While water was never an issue in the Presidential campaign, I am happy to say it was an issue on the Oklahoma ballot. State voters approved a measure that allows the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) to issue up to $300 million in bonds to help fund drinking water and wastewater needs across the state.

The OWRB's recent update of the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan estimates that over the next 50 years the state will need to spend $80 billion in updates and expansion of drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.

Voters approved creation of the Water Infrastructure Credit Enhancement Reserve Fund, which will back loans made to water and wastewater utilities. The reserve fund will allow the state to issue up to $3 billion in loans for water projects. While it's not a grant program, it does allow local cities and towns to borrow money at lower interest rates.

Similar programs exist in states across the nation and more are needed along with other creative funding programs on the state and local level. Raising rates, while a bitter pill for some struggling towns and cities to swallow, must be part of the funding puzzle.

With Obama secure for another term, I expect EPA will move ahead with new drinking water regulations and continue its push for compliance of Clean Water Act rules. It will be business as usual, and the next four years will probably look very much like the last four, in terms of Washington.

My only hope is that we have turned the economic corner and are marching ahead to better days. If we can just avoid that pesky fiscal cliff, we will keep on marching forward: left, right, left, right, left.

James Laughlin, Editor