According to water experts, including microbiologist and water research scientist Timothy Ford, America’s drinking water infrastructure is in need of some serious repairs.
Ford, Professor and Department Head of Microbiology at Montana State University, says that despite the many precautions taken to purify the nation’s drinking water, our outdated water distribution systems – underground networks of metal pipes – pose a major public health risk for Americans, even greater than that of a possible terrorist attack.
In accordance with the rigorous water purification standards set by the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, cities and towns across the country spend over $50 billion a year to clean water sourced from lakes, rivers and underground aquifers.
However, investigations carried out by the National Research Council indicate that efforts to clean up our water supply are not that effective in the absence of a clean water distribution system. The NRC’s research has determined that old, rusty water pipes, especially those in older cities like Boston, Denver, New York and Philadelphia, have the potential to cause chemical or microbial disease outbreaks.
Americans have grown wise to the poor quality of their drinking water: currently, approximately 40 percent of Americans use drinking water filtration products, while many others drink bottled water instead of water from the tap.
Unfortunately, a nationwide water infrastructure overhaul would not be cheap – the estimated cost to replace U.S. water systems ranges from $250 - $350 billion. If we did make these improvements, the price of water would probably rise substantially. Nevertheless, as these systems continue to deteriorate over the next 10 to 20 years, we’ll likely see significant investments to improve our drinking water infrastructure.
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Pipe Gripes is written and published by Thompson Plumbing Heating & Cooling