The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) issues their Infrastructure Report Card every four years which has a similar grading system to those used in schools. The last published report from 2016, highlighted a D+ rating for our infrastructure. This is a very poor grade and the natural response is to wonder if our infrastructure can be that bad. A key part of the infrastructure for any modern nation is the water delivery network. Our aging water pipes can have a major impact on our water quality.
The Scale of the Problem
In a nation as large as ours, we have an astonishing level of water related infrastructure. Over the last few decades, there has been no significant investment and we’re starting to notice the problems. Experts estimate that there are around 1.6 million miles of water delivery and sewer pipes that are 45 years old. In some areas, there are even cast-iron pipes in use that are over a century old at this point. Many pipes are corroded, the infrastructure was poorly installed and they are not up to modern standards. Bearing these factors in mind it’s not too hard to understand the poor D+ rating for water infrastructure.
4 Common Water Infrastructure Problems
There are four common water infrastructure problems that can have a major impact on our daily lives, they are:
- Water Breaks: When the infrastructure starts to fail more repairs are necessary which can lead to a disruption in service and disruption on our streets.
- Home Disruption: It can be hard to plan meals or even take showers if the water supply is unreliable.
- Contamination: The most dangerous impact of water infrastructure failures can be contamination when microorganisms and other contaminants can enter our water supply.
- Rising Taxes: It’s estimated that every American family will pay $3,400 in taxes to carry out ongoing repairs to water and sewer pipes.
The Dangers of Pipe Corrosion
When the pipes corrode, the inner walls are compromised and the materials used in the construction can determine the levels of danger to your health. If the pipe walls contain heavy metals or other harmful materials, they can be released into the water passing through the pipes. These small particles then reach your home and end up in your next glass of water. This is a very real danger for homes built prior to 1981 before lead and other harmful pipe construction materials were banned.
An iron pipe corrosion issue may be noticed due to a red or rusty brown color in the water. The water may have an unpleasant metallic taste and there could be particles of rust floating in it. If the pipes are cooper they corrode with a red, orange, or brown color. Both types of corroded pipes can create a black color if sulfide corrosion takes place. If microbial activity is present, there could be a foul odor and the water will taste bad.
What is the Solution?
Adding a final barrier of protection for your water makes good sense. There are filtration systems suitable for every home and they cost less than you may imagine. Contact your local water treatment specialist and they will be happy to help.
By EcoWater Systems.
EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is the largest water treatment company in the state and is a member of Water Quality Association.