How a Cracked Pipe Can Affect Your Water Supply
Most of us feel a good degree of irritation when we see a road crew digging up a water line for repair. Many in fact may wonder exactly why a simple cracked pipe needs to cause so much disruption, but this is because we fail to recognize the important impact a cracked pipe can have all the way to our home water taps.
The Long Journey Water Takes
Underneath a typical American town, you will find a network of waterways, which are interconnected. Sewage systems accumulate wastewater; channeling the effluent to the nearest water treatment facility and allowing treated water to be released back into our ecosystem. Lakes, reservoirs and rivers also feed freshwater into the maze of interconnected pipes, allowing water to be carried to homes and ultimately to your faucet. There is also another system of pipes, which channel runoff and rainwater, which is collected from curbside drains, transporting it, untreated, away from residences and roads to lakes, rivers or oceans.
The Troubles With Municipal Engineering
While these water highway systems are an amazing feat human of engineering, the nature of such interconnected pipe networks can trigger issues and problems. In an ideal world, runoff, sewage and freshwater should and are for the most part kept in separate systems. Unfortunately, damage and errors can mean that the water can become cross-contaminated. If sewage or runoff water is allowed to enter the freshwater system, you may find that your drinking water could contain agricultural runoff, fecal bacteria or other unwanted chemicals, metals or minerals.
This dangerous cross contamination can occur with relative ease from corroded pipes, construction damage, heavy rain or even human error. An aged infrastructure (now an overwhelming fact in the U.S.) can also contribute to the increased likelihood of such a contamination event occurring. In many areas around our nation, municipal waterworks are very old, which further increases the risk of contamination and prompts an alarming number of boil water advisories, quite typical in the Midwest.
How a Compromised Pipe Can Impact Your Water Supply:
The interconnectivity of pipes in a water delivery system means that there is the potential for contamination at any stage. Even a minor fissure in a line can lead to widespread water contamination. For example, if a backhoe digging a ditch breaks a water pipe, the bacteria in the soil can quickly contaminate the water over a wide area. This could mean that from this tiny, single origin point, a boil water advisory is issued for the whole area rather than just the one neighborhood.
The resulting consequences of any contaminant entering a system, highlights, the indisputable vulnerability of our municipal waterways and the entire system being compromised. Unfortunately, there is usually a delay between the contamination occurring and it being detected, meaning that a frightening amount of time can pass before a public alert is issued. Thankfully, homeowners, can minimize the risk of drinking contaminated water with a domestic water filtration system. These systems vary from basic water filter pitchers and point of use, under counter R.O.s to whole house systems. The more sophisticated systems can eliminate 99.9 percent of pathogens and bacteria, preventing you and your family from ingesting contaminants even before a boil water alert is issued.
About The Author, Terry Reeh, EcoWater Systems of Nebraska:
With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative. Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices. EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery businesses in the state.