America's Water Pipes Are Failing and We Need to Fix Them...Fast

Illustration for article titled America's Water Pipes Are Failing and We Need to Fix Them...Fast

By and large, America's water infrastructure is on the cusp of disrepair. Environmentalists and public health officials have been chattering about this for years, but now the problem has become more urgent and we need to overhaul much of it in a hurry.


According to David Lepeska, rotting pipes are responsible for floods, illness affecting millions, and trillion of gallons of water lost due to leakage. But logistical issues aside, the cost of such stripping out over half the nation's water pipes, some of which are over a hundred of years old, comes at a great cost. A cost likely to be passed down to residents.

The EPA estimates that adequately upgrading the nation's water infrastructure would cost between $750 billion and $1 trillion over the next couple decades. Yet with the protracted recession, neither cities nor the federal government have funds to spare. And because water infrastructure is mainly underground and out of sight, political will in Washington remains low. Only about $10 billion of the $787 billion 2009 stimulus package was aimed at water infrastructure. What's more, the federal government's share of water infrastructure spending has plummeted from about 75 percent to about 3 percent in the past 35 years, according to Ken Kirk of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies.

Lepeska suggests we need pipes that are smart and equipped with tech that will indicate where the water infrastructure is failing, pointing out systems that have already been implemented in cities such as Dallas and Las Vegas. He also calls for the widespread adoption of repair technology which uses robots which require no excavation of land to complete their tasks.

And increased water rates may sound like a burden, but so would the public health disasters that would ensue if nothing is done at all. [Atlantic Ciies]



It always makes me cringe when I hear that a problem needs to be addressed as high-tech as only possible. 'Smart pipes... equipped with tech' - no, we just need pipes where the water comes out clear and drinkable! I've had better drinking water in some developing countries that certainly didn't have 'smart pipes', than in the US!

It's the same nonsense with classroom instruction: 'We need better technology...' This is a bunch of male cattle droppings - what we need is better educated and motivated teachers. They can do wonders on a simple blackboard!

Just stick with the basics, and do them the best possible way. /rant over