Have you ever wondered what are finished storage water tanks for? Does the water they hold safe to drink?
Yes, it’s that big water container that you see in your community. It’s a water reservoir purposed for many uses. It’s called finished water storage system.
Unlike natural sources where water movement is part of the natural cycle, the water inside finished water storage system is not. The water just stays there until it’s used.
Because of this, there’s a big possibility that while water is still inside the reservoir, the quality deteriorates or is already contaminated with microbes and chemical changes. It surely is a health risk for consumers, isn’t it?
If finished water system could create a public health issue, why does the US still pursue the use of finished water storage facilities?
The US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) said that finished water storage facilities are built to answer water demands for more water and to lessen pressure distribution fluctuations during peak hours of usage.
They see to it that there is enough water supply for other needs too, like firefighting and power outages.
EPA also said that finished water storage facilities are part of the protective “barriers” in the water distribution system and they prevent contamination as the water reaches the customer.
In other words, the finished water storage system is the government’s way of saying, “Don’t panic. There’s no safe water shortage”.
Though it’s true that water shortage is a big no-no to American household and industry, wouldn’t the sourcing of water through finished water storage system compromise the drinking water quality and safety?
How can the storage system prevent contamination as it reaches the customer?
Well, the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) is the law that sets the requirements and standards on the improvement and building of public water supply systems, including finished water storage system.
The US believes that these requirements on water infrastructures would ensure the goal of high-quality drinking water is met.
However, how compliant are the US infrastructure to the SDWA laws.
EPA requires the upgrading and maintenance of finished water storage structures to prevent water age due to stagnancy, chlorine residual and other old design-related weaknesses that could cause bacterial growth and water quality deterioration.
It is interesting to find out how the local government or water authorities are factoring all these requirements on drinking water quality in their infrastructure asset management practice.
Does finished water storage facilities included in lifecycle management of assets?
Reading the EPA 2017 report stated that nearly six billion gallons of treated drinking water is lost daily due to leaking pipes and an estimated 240,000 water main breaks each year could make one cringe with the thought of sourcing drinking water from aging finished water storage system.
Given that these facilities are part of the aging water infrastructure in the US, does the infrastructure asset management plan include a careful risk and resilience analyses?