Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Experts: U.S. Water Infrastructure in Trouble

CNN (01/21/11) Kosik, Alison

The U.S. drinking water system is in such bad shape that the American Society of Civil Engineers gave it a grade of D minus in its 2009 Report Card of America’s Infrastructure, and there are an average of 700 water main brakes per day across the country. The aging system poses threats of property loss, inconvenience, and public health problems, engineers say. "Anytime you're breaking the seal of the system that brings water into your homes and apartments, you're risking contamination from bacteria and viruses," said Eric Goldstein of the Natural Resources Defense Council. He said the 2008 salmonella outbreak in Alamosa, Colorado was caused by a contaminated water main break. "And that's just the tip of the iceberg," he said. Much of the U.S. water delivery system was placed before World War II, and must be replaced “or we’ll suffer the consequences,” Goldstein says. But the nation is in recession and state budgets are tight, while some estimates say it could cost as much as $335 billion over the next 20 years to fix the entire system. "We also need a national political leadership that understands the extraordinary significance and importance of this investment and why it matters to them and why it will pay us back," said District of Columbia water general manager George Hawkins. "Conservative or liberal does not matter." Goldstein agrees. “You can't have jobs, you can't have businesses, homes, you can't have hotels if this infrastructure isn't in place.


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