Published On: Thu, May 24th, 2018

Rainy Season Exposes Water Infrastructure Failures

As warmer weather starts to hit much of the US over the coming weeks and bringing Summer with it, questions are being asked up and down the country about the failings of the water infrastructure. In a particularly wet Spring, many cities and municipalities found their water infrastructure networks under intense pressure, particularly in periods of prolonged heavy rainfall.

photo/ Twitter

Flooding has been commonplace as antiquated sewer systems in cities, some of which over 100 years old, struggled to cope with the deluge of rain. The melting of snow over the last few weeks has added to the problem with rivers flooding and river banks bursting. Severe flood warnings are present in Montana, North Carolina, Florida and New Mexico, with many residents being advised to stay inside their homes rather than risk venturing out.

It would be easy to blame global warming for the flooding, but that ignores the state of the water infrastructure in the US. With droughts in California and an estimated 6 billion gallons of treated water lost every day because of faulty or leaking pipes, it would be wrong to blame just the weather.

Trenchless pipe repairs have become big business in the US. On a residential basis, more and more homes are needing to replace or repair their pipes as the city municipalities have been failing to invest in and improve their water infrastructures. Overflowing or blocked drains have blighted cities in North America, causing sewage spills and even blocked up toilets.

Typhoon Son-Tinh flooding screenshot Sky video

The US Housing sector may be stagnating numbers wise, but for plumbers and others tradespeople servicing residential properties, numbers have never been so great. The extent of the failing water infrastructures has kept contractors nice and busy but all too often we are seeing what is called band-aid fixes to the water systems.

Rather than invest in a complete overhaul of the water infrastructure, town halls are mostly choosing to apply temporary fixes only. These band aid fixes may work on a certain level, but as each year passes, the problems seem to be getting only worse and worse. On the plus side, sewer plumbing technology is improving all the time and fixes can be applied that would never been able to a decade ago.

Despite the advancements in technology and the rapid increase in the number of plumbers and pipe repair companies, the water infrastructure failings are becoming more frequent and costlier. A complete overhaul is needed across the country but the scale and cost appear to be too much for most cities. What is needed is a broad but thorough plan to improving the water infrastructure and reducing waste, or we may see droughts in states other than California.

Author: Jacob Maslow

Flooding Photo/Sic Mic

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