‘If ain’t broke’ it still might need a fix

Published 7:56 pm Thursday, August 2, 2018

Nothing lasts forever.

That particularly phrase gets bandied about quite often, when people have to confront change. There’s a sense of resignation associated with it — a shrug of the shoulders; a “that’s life” mentality.

There is truth in the statement, however. And that truth can especially be seen in the infrastructure that surrounds us. A once-new, smooth road will eventually become marred by potholes. A bridge, once sturdy, is deemed unsafe. A sewer system, once perfectly adequate for a town, no longer has the ability to drain the neighborhood streets. Roofs begin to leak. When it comes to infrastructure, nothing does last forever, but regular maintenance can help stave off the end of life.

Nothing lasts forever is also a phrase that belongs to outdated technology. Just go out to the local dump and view the literally tons of old TVs and computers, many likely still working when they were dropped off. Technology had moved beyond these machines’ capabilities, so they were no longer useful to their owners, and their owners likely promptly purchased the latest technology.

When infrastructure and technology merge, that’s when some people object, often using phrases like “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” There is some logic to that statement, of course, but the problem is that old systems do break — and break, and break again. Either the system is brought up-to-date or the employees in charge of that system have to come up with a series of work-arounds that soon create more work than necessary. More work means more hands to do that work. More hands to do that work means more money dedicated to pay them. More pay means less money for some other important project. It all ties together.

So rather than approaching the coming Smartmeter installation for the county’s water system with an “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude, take a moment to understand that 1) the metering infrastructure is outdated; 2) it will (and does) break, and break, and break again; and 3) the county is moving to a system that is up-to-date, purchasing the latest technology.

Yes, somebody’s got to pay for it, just as somebody had to pay for their new TV or new laptop. But if something’s broken, it’s got to be fixed — that’s just life.