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Around the Water Cooler: New interactive technology helps solve aging infrastructure issues

2012 October 18

By Lahne Mattas-Curry

Water main breakCold weather brings many things: warm sweaters, hot chocolate, football and, unfortunately, water main breaks. Each year there are approximately 240,000 water main breaks across the United States. Many of these breaks are due to aging water infrastructure. According to EPA physical scientist, Michael Royer, “drinking water and wastewater infrastructure has been in a gradual state of decline for the past two decades.”

But fixing aging infrastructure is no easy task, it’s complex and extremely costly. Utility managers across the country struggle with ways to determine the condition of their infrastructure, and then have to decide what the capabilities and limitations of available technologies might be. They then have to decide if any of those technologies work in their systems.

But what if utility managers around the country could easily share best practices? What if there was an easy way to access comprehensive information about technology and asset management for systems throughout the United States?

EPA scientists worked with the Water Environment Research Foundation and developed a centralized platform led by a Virginia Tech research team. WateriD, the formal name for the project, is a web-based interactive database where utilities can easily share their experiences and lessons learned.

WateriD is a great solution for drinking water and wastewater utility systems of all sizes. Accordong to Royer, “It is a living knowledge base.”

To learn more about WateriD please visit www.waterid.org.

About the Author: Lahne Mattas-Curry works closely with EPA’s Safe and Sustainable Water Research program and is a regular contributor to “It All Starts with Science.”

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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3 Responses leave one →
  1. DALE ABBOTT permalink
    October 18, 2012

    what protection does the EPA offer to we the people? Water pipes in America are
    100+ yrs old and when they break, water delivered to us is contaminated with
    all kinds of stuff.
    Why are we the people not informed as to what defense measures we can take to prevent unwanted stuff in our glass of water?
    Stop lying to us, tell us about a last barrier of defense. ( a one micron filter) now
    was that so hard to do?.When the EPA tells we the people that our water is safe to drink I cringe, I am a plumber/ water consultant and know very well they lie to us all the time. Tell me to my face that people who drink out of the tap with pipes this old are safe. Take the lid off your toilets and see for yourself what comes into your homes.
    Please, stop giving false info to we the people. They are not stupid. explain the bottled water craze? We insure our house, cars. boats and health. we have a smoke
    alarm, co detector, security system on front lawn. but no filter on our drinking water
    We all will die within days without water, filter or be the filter!

    • Lahne Mattas-Curry permalink*
      October 19, 2012

      Thank you for your comment. These are real concerns that EPA is addressing. EPA’s drinking water strategy strengthens protections against contaminants in drinking water and promotes cost-effective new technologies to meet the needs of communities across the country struggling with water challenges.

      There are approximately 157,000 public U.S. drinking water systems regulated by EPA, states, or tribes that provide drinking water to 90 percent of Americans. More than 290 million people living in the United States rely on the safety of tap water provided by public water systems that are subject to national drinking water standards .Aging Water Infrastructure Research is currently one of the top national water program priorities, and is one of the top priorities of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. So we understand your concerns.

      Improving the sustainability of our nation’s water supplies is a priority for EPA’s Office of Research and Development and Office of Water in support of the Agency’s mission to protect public health and safeguard the environment. To that end, research grants have been awarded to identify, develop and demonstrate novel and innovative treatment technologies and approaches for small public drinking water systems.

      More information about the background and purpose of the grants awarded under the EPA solicitation titled Research and Demonstration of Innovative Drinking water Treatment Technologies in Small Systems can be view at: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/2011/2011_star_drinkingwater.html#Synopsis.

      In addition, this year, EPA made several research awards to small businesses to improve drinking water treatment and monitoring technologies. For more information, see: http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncer_abstracts/index.cfm/fuseaction/outlinks.sbir/fullList/Yes/showYear/current

      We hope that helps to answer your question about what EPA is doing to keep our drinking water safe. We appreciate your concerns and your feedback.

      Water quality and quantity is a focus of our Safe and Sustainable Water Research Program.

      Thank you,
      Lahne

  2. Arman.- permalink
    October 18, 2012

    The Culture of The Water.-

    Basically water doesn’t think about the comparison where its place, at the sea, land or sky. It’s just helping this planet. The water always flow from up to the bottom while to look for spaces for anything which want. So, next time, all the planets should contain the water and help the human who enjoy to journey inter-planets. Good luck water………!

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