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Better Branding Required: The Urgency of Positioning Public Water Systems Operators as Health Care Professionals

Authors: Katherine Briefs*, Department of Human and Organizational Development, Peabody College, Vanderbilt University, Yolanda McDonald, Department of Human and Organizational Development, Peabody College, Vanderbilt University
Topics: Applied Geography, Water Resources and Hydrology, United States
Keywords: public water systems operators, public health, allied health care occupations
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


New challenges to clean water accessibility, including rising costs, deteriorating infrastructure, and an aging workforce require a shift in positionality of public water systems. The United States regulates public water supplies through public health standards, and consequences of contaminated drinking water can cause detrimental health outcomes . Drinking water disparities, infrastructure challenges, and finite water sources lead to potential existential threats, and the delivery of clean drinking water falls within the framework of public health systems and services research .
The public drinking water industry needs better branding. Water systems provide a necessary component to public health, and framing public water systems operators as allied healthcare professionals situates their employment within the healthcare industry. Traditionally, careers in public water have been viewed as blue-collar work, diminishing the perceived value they add to society and the complexity of their jobs. This shift in branding offers increased potential for job recruitment, government funding, and consumer accessibility to quality affordable drinking water.

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