There are 51,356 community water systems in America, comprised of almost a million miles of pipes to provide water to nearly 300 million people. The majority of the pipes were laid in the early to mid-20th century, and were often built with lead or copper that has corroded over time. Most of those pipes, laid around 75 years ago, have a projected life span of……….75 years. Currently, pipe replacement happens at a rate of .5% per year, which means it will take approximately 200 years to replace all the currently laid pipes. By that time, the ones that need to be replaced today will be at least 275 years old.
Aging pipes have led to leaking pipes. 240,000 breaks occur each year in water mains, resulting in the loss of 14-18% of treated water each day. That much clean drinking water could support 15 million households each day.
Money, or the lack thereof, is naturally what is holding back the replacement of water pipes. The American Water Works Association estimates that the upgrade and increase of available water pipes will cost close to $1 trillion. Much of the funding for the infrastructure used for drinking water comes from people who pay a community provider for water. The Government Accountability Office estimates that a significant number of cities are shrinking, which means less funding to such providers. At this time, the American Water Works Association estimates that $1 trillion is needed to upgrade the current water infrastructure, and to upgrade it.
There are organizations that have recommended solutions and plans to help with improved funding. Information can be found at https://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Drinking-Water-Final.pdf