12 Jan 2010
Water water … nowhere

With over a hundred breaks in the water mains, Jackson is running kinda dry right now. Federal, state, and local governments have closed offices, school have closed, a number of local businesses have locked their doors.

Some neighborhoods (mine, for example) have no water, while others have barely a trickle. Boil-water alerts aren’t useful when there’s no water to boil.

I’m not upset about this (at least not yet) — it’s what you can expect when you have aged infrastructure, some of it over a hundred years old, in shifting Yazoo clay exposed to an unusually extended freeze.

It does reemphasize the universal pay-me-now-or-pay-me-later law. I say universal because it doen’t just apply to infrastructure, but to all human endeavors, whether water mains, software systems and networks, or legislation.

It’s human nature to be be excited and willing to spend right-now for something new, shiny, and needed. Unfortunately it’s also human nature to overlook the ongoing cost of maintenance; to believe that future resources will be magically provided for; or to simply foist it off on future staff or next generation, making it someone else’s problem.
That last is particularly apt in the case of public services.

If you don’t plan for the cost of ongoing maintenance from the beginning, you (or your successors) will pay, with with a high penalty factor, when it breaks.

Category: Daily-Grind
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