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Managing Aging Water Infrastructure Assets



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Managing Aging Water Infrastructure Assets Planning Ahead Saves Time and Money By Sandra Fallon and Mark Kemp Rye Word Count 1 596 Few things are as dramatic as a levee break or a bridge collapse The tragedies associated with Hurricane Katrina and the I 35 bridge failure in Minneapolis have put the serious state of America s public works in the spotlight and sparked renewed discussions about the country s aging infrastructure Meanwhile another infrastructure crisis is happening largely out of sight and out of mind the country s drinking water wastewater and stormwater systems are aging And while these systems rarely make the national news the threat that deteriorating facilities pose to hard won environmental and public health improvements is no less real Much of the water infrastructure we rely on today was installed after World War II although some cities have pipes in the ground dating back to the 1800s Much of this equipment has reached the end of its useful life and needs to be repaired or replaced The U S Government Accountability Office estimates that nationwide up to a 1 trillion investment is needed in drinking water and wastewater systems over the next two decades Infrastructure refers to the pipes treatment plants pumps valves water storage tanks hydrants and other critical components that deliver safe drinking water to our taps support fire and emergency services remove wastewater from our homes and other buildings and carry away storm water from our streets This infrastructure helps protect the public health the environment and economic activity contributes to a good quality of life and likely represents the community s largest capital investment What are the Impacts of Aging Water Infrastructure Infrastructure malfunction and failure can disrupt any and all water services and problems are more likely to occur as equipment ages One of the biggest problems is water loss from leaks or breaks in the drinking water distribution system the underground pipes



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