At least a million miles of pipes distribute America’s drinking water. Many of them were installed in the early to the mid-20th century with a lifespan of 75 to 100 years.
Though the quality of US drinking water stays high, possible contamination commands continuous attention.
Reading the NRDC’s 21 September 2017 press release headline, “Newark’s Lead in Drinking Water Contamination Recalls Flint Crisis; Local and National Groups Challenge Officials for a Stronger Response” one can’t help but be concerned.
It’s been observed that water quality could cause corrosion in old pipes used in residential and service networks, which results in lead and copper elements leaching into drinking water. There’s no denying that the water utility infrastructure in the US is nearing its end-of-life.
The aging water infrastructure USA scenario
To sustain the daily American need of water, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) shared in their 2017 Infrastructure Report Card that the US consumes about 42 billion gallons of water a day.
There are approximately 155,000 active public drinking water systems nationwide, where 80 percent of potable water is sourced from surface waters like lakes, rivers, reservoirs, and oceans while 20 percent is from groundwater aquifers, as asserted in ASCE report.
To have a more comprehensive outlook on the current potable water system and to be able to respond to the pressing needs on drinking water safety as recommended by the Clean Water Act” (CWA), conducting an infrastructure asset management review and planning is needed.
ASCE mentioned in its 2017 study that the US is facing an enormous challenge to avoid drinking water shortage in the future by replacing critical water and wastewater infrastructure.
There are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks per year across the country as the US drinking water infrastructure is nearing the end of its useful period.
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimates that $3.6 trillion is needed to lift the country’s support systems to satisfactory levels. Hence, water infrastructure management planning is crucial.
According to the American Water Works Association (AWWA), it could cost over $1 trillion to replace every pipe. The nation has many water problems and they are growing worse over time.
So, before the next failure in water infrastructure comes and endanger the consumers, the government must be able to resolve them.
Achieving a sustainable water utility infrastructure management
Water utility infrastructure management experts in America have the clear picture of the possible outcome if the nation’s current water infrastructure status remains unresolved.
Effective infrastructure management is vital for water systems operations, which among others, involved financials and infrastructure sustainability planning.
When local authorities are implementing a water utility infrastructure management plan, they can set goals and projects, clarification of service levels, risk management, cost analysis and most of all, be transparent with the city and town populace and leaders.