Jeffrey Diehl is CEO of Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank.

Clean and drinking water are things that we often take for granted, yet are absolutely essential to our communities, our way of life, our economy and our environment. We turn on the faucet and there's safe drinkable water to quench our thirst. We flush the toilet and well, ahem, it disappears. And when it rains, stormwater runoff disappears down storm drains.

Yet behind each of these everyday systems — drinking water, wastewater and stormwater — are billions and billions of dollars in critical infrastructure. This infrastructure must be constantly maintained, upgraded and sometimes replaced so that residents and businesses have a reliable supply of clean drinking water and the Ocean State's environment is protected from harmful waste and contaminants.

Opinion/Diehl: Time is right for RI to invest in clean water

At Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, we have been helping our cities, towns and quasi-public entities invest in their clean and drinking water infrastructure since 1989. We have helped finance more than $2.1 billion in water infrastructure across the state, while saving our municipal partners hundreds of millions of dollars through below-market-rate financing.

Despite this significant investment, we know, and engineers agree, that there is much more work to be done.

We need to make our drinking and wastewater facilities more resilient to the impacts of climate change, and in the case of our drinking water we must tackle the issue of lead service lines, which are found in many homes built before the 1950s. All while investing in the basics, including maintenance and upgrades to our treatment facilities, water mains and pipes.

Fortunately, with the passage of the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Rhode Island now has a truly historic opportunity to tackle these challenges and make transformational investments in water infrastructure. The investments will improve the lives of Rhode Islanders and our environment for decades to come, while also creating good jobs and driving economic development.

Rhode Island has an unprecedented opportunity to invest in our critical clean and drinking water infrastructure. Let’s get to work.