Thinking About What’s Under Our Feet
by Valerie Breznicky
They’re out of sight, often out of mind, and increasingly, out of time.
In many cases, the drinking water and sewer lines that run beneath us have aged beyond their useful life. And when these lines crack and leak, serious public health issues can occur from contaminants entering our drinking water systems, as well as raw sewage infiltrating ground water and surface water supplies.
Just days ago, we marked National Infrastructure Week. It was an opportunity to highlight the value that well-maintained infrastructure can bring to our economy, our jobs and public health and safety. It was also a chance to share information on how specific gaps in our infrastructure matter to all of us – from lost water to sewer overflows.
Fortunately in our office, we manage the region’s EPA Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), working with our states to finance fixes for some of those leaky and creaky lines.
Here are just a few examples:
With a $784,576 loan from the CWSRF in the State of Delaware this year, Cape Henlopen State Park will be able to use Cured-in-Place Pipe Relining to fix cracked sewer lines.
West Providence Township in Everett, Pennsylvania, is using a $5 million CWSRF loan to replace 35,000 linear feet of existing terra cotta sewer pipe (which has cracked and disconnected), replacing it with new Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) collection lines. This will prevent high flows to the treatment plant which has caused overflow of diluted sewage during wet weather events.
By using $34,000 in DWSRF grant money in Virginia, the Virginia Rural Water Association was able to purchase leak detection equipment to aid small water authorities in locating physical leaks in drinking water distribution lines, saving the communities money and precious clean water.
As our drinking water and wastewater pipelines increasingly show their wear, investing in the next generation of infrastructure makes sense, not only from a public health perspective, but from an economic standpoint as well. While there is a cost to making these investments, we need to me mindful that access to clean, safe water is essential to all of us, and investing in clean water today will save us all money over the long run.
About the Author: Valerie is an EPA environmental scientist and one of the Region III Sustainable Infrastructure (SI) Coordinators. She has more than 31 years of experience managing infrastructure grants and has spent over seven years as an SI Coordinator, ensuring the sustainability of our water and wastewater infrastructure through information sharing and the integration of SI principles in all state programs.
The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.
EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.
EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.