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Gregory Mitchell Treasurer

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Reason #1 - Quality Water = Quality Health

JoCo Water District #1 (WaterOne) needs to provide top-notch quality water and to re-double efforts to measure and combat pollutants; especially those that are not regulated by EPA guidelines. The EPA sets minimum standards to assure the health and safety of water customers. High quality water is a top determinant of health and with recent roll-backs to clean-water regulations, board members now, more than ever, have to be focused on public health beyond regulatory requirements.

I have a healthcare background, and an educational foundation which includes public health. Professionally, I have spent twenty-five (plus) years working in health services. Much of that work has been in financial and operational areas including working on several multi-million-dollar capital projects. While margins are critical to any organization, some of those projects have been done not because they were potentially profitable, but because they were the right thing to do for the betterment of community health. In healthcare finance, we frequently refer to a “halo effect”. This is a phenomenon which refers to the downstream effects of an initiative. Something may not make sense when viewed from within a silo, but delivers benefits when taking a broader view. For instance, some health services are not profitable to hospitals, but they are needed services and they bring people in the door for services that are profitable.

The “halo effect” of safe water is a pretty obvious. Improving the quality of water may not have a significant effect in the short term, but it is clearly the right thing to do. Let’s assume that improvement comes with a small marginal cost. Will that extra penny on your water bill make you healthier today? Perhaps not. But if there is a statistical likelihood that it would prevent 400 customers from developing brain tumors twenty years from now, it would be worth it to me. We need board members who can process the complicated calculus of costs and benefits through the lens of long-term health outcomes.

Not every marginal increase of a penny is worth it, but it is important to understand the value of safe drinking water and to take a long-term approach to evaluating risk and reward. Ultimately, a water district is reliant on engineers to plan and execute an initiative, but it should be done for the health benefits of the community. People who have training, either clinically or administratively, in healthcare and health outcomes are well suited to guide the district on the next stage of its journey. I have the right education and experience to serve the community in that capacity. #watermatters


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