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What Lurks Beneath

2012 March 15

By Lee Murphy

WaterSupply_059They’re underground, out of sight, and generally out of mind.

Many of us take for granted the systems that bring water to our homes and take it away when we’re done with it.  That is, until something goes wrong.  Water main breaks and sewage backups are becoming more common.  They offer stark reminders that the network of pipes and other water-related hardware in many communities is getting old.

Studies like one done in Pennsylvania in 2008 identify just how serious the problem is, and the challenges of financing needed infrastructure repairs.

So what can you do about it?  If your water and wastewater system is publicly owned (by a local government) you can get involved by:

  • Attending local meetings: Ask about the condition of the system. The best systems maintain an inventory of their physical assets, know the condition of those assets, know the risk and impact of failures, and have a plan for the eventual replacements. If the managers of your system cannot provide the information, suggest they do Asset Management Planning.
  • Learning more: You can find more information on public water and wastewater systems here, here, and here

Out of sight doesn’t have to mean out of mind when it comes to our water infrastructure!  Do you know anything about the condition of the water infrastructure in your community and what’s being done about it?  What is water worth to you?

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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