What a perfect time to launch such an endeavor. Developing science and awareness of water — conservation, treatment, new sources, delivery, disposal, the socio-economics of water — and a changing political and social climate make the launch of Women Leading Water so very important.

Whether you agree with current and forthcoming policy decisions or not, this is a pivotal time for both women and water. The Flint water crisis highlighted how the never-ending search to reduce spending without a full grasp of the consequences can — disastrously — spend both political and social capital. Estimates of the economic cost for the Flint response top nearly $400M [1]. While that estimate includes the long term health effects of lead exposure on the residents of Flint, it does not quantify the effect of the erosion of confidence in our government and the belief that people are forgotten in America. At a minimum, the Flint water crisis has highlighted how vulnerable our water can be and that infrastructure spending is necessary in order to protect America’s greatest assets — its people. To top it off, we’re entering a new Presidency that doesn’t believe in science and is looking to gut the Environmental Protection Agency, all in the search for profit.

For minorities and women, we’re looking at a whole new landscape that solidifies the fear of diversity in the deepest halls of our government. Diversity strengthens us, and I want to see that core value reflected in the places I work and live. I want this for my children and America. As an engineer, I’ve almost always found myself one of the lone women in a sea of men. I’ve come to expect the subtle discrimination that occurs in a woman’s career — whether the lowest or the highest of us. These actions reflect the underlying threat of fear and discrimination in our world and 2016 was a wakeup call to me and thousands of people across the US. Grassroots efforts like the Women’s March and Women Leading Water are where the needed change will start.

Women Leading Water sends a powerful message. Water is mighty and shapes this world. It has social, political and economic power. Just like water, women working in concert can shape the world into what we want to make it. I am excited to see the great things that Women Leading Water can do. We have a lot of work ahead of us. Congratulations on your launch!

[1] http://time.com/4441471/flint-water-lead-poisoning-costs/

Shannon Williams, PE

shannon_williams-bw-sqShannon is a water resource engineer with 17 years of experience in environmental, transportation and water resources project for diverse clients throughout the US. Originally from New York, Shannon has two wonderful boys, a great husband, and two fur-babies. She can be reached at sainglee@msn.com.

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