The well-documented health crisis in Flint, MI helped spotlight the aging water infrastructure issue in the USA. To summarize, in April 2014 the Flint MI water source was changed from Lake Huron to the Flint River. The city was using water from Lake Huron for 50+ years, but the cost of water was one of the highest in the country in a city with a high poverty rate. The plan was to temporarily use the water from the Flint River using an upgraded 50+ year old water treatment plant. But as the residents found out, the water treatment plant was not upgraded enough to handle the treatment river water. The major oversight was not treating the water with “corrosion control” which caused the lead in the pipes to leach out into the water supply, effectively poisoning the 100,000 residents of Flint with lead.
It’s no secret that the US Government has not been spending money on this infrastructure in an attempt to save money, and not run up the deficit more than necessary. By anyone’s calculations, it would take a couple decades and hundreds of billions of dollars to fully upgrade the water infrastructure nation-wide.
One has to wonder if/when the next Flint MI crisis will occur. Flint MI is an extreme case that was clearly mis-managed by the people involved with the project, but cities across the USA are feeling the downside of an aging water infrastructure. Some water pipes are nearly 150 years old dating back to the 19th century, so it shouldn’t be surprising when these old water main pipes break causing the city to go without water for a few days while the patchwork repairs are made. If you want an example of what happens when a water main breaks, look no further than the OWASA water main breaks in 2017 and 2018 in Chapel Hill and Carrboro NC.
FUN FACT: The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the USA wastes 6 billion gallons of clean drinking water each day because of leaky pipes. That works out to be 14% of the total water use.
There is some hope however. On 10/23/18 President Trump signed the Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 into law — which dramatically increases the federal investment in the water infrastructure.
While some call this a major victory, others are critical of the plan. Judith Enck, former administrator of EPA Region 2, says that the bill falls well short of the estimated $660 billion ($271 billion for sewage and stormwater systems, and $384 billion for drinking water) over the next twenty years needed to upgrade the water infrastructure.
The other concern is that there were not enough environmental protection regulations put into this bill to adequately protect the water supply. Additionally it puts a huge financial burden on local governments which are already cash-strapped.
OK, so this new law may not be ideal, but it’s something, and something is better than nothing. Billions of dollars will be invested in drinking water delivery, irrigation, water storage, and wastewater management systems, and that can’t be all bad news.
At the end of the day, you really need to ask yourself: given all I know, do I want me and my family drinking the water that comes from the tap? We would recommend getting your water tested and considering the cost versus benefits of a private water well. Sure, you need to get the well drilled, maintain the equipment, and get it tested regularly — but the water quality, especially if it’s filtered, should be much higher than any tap water. Plus, you’re no longer depending on your municipality to maintain the degrading water system.
Need a Well Drilled?
If you live in the greater Raleigh area, consider A&T Well and Pump, a reputable company that specializes in well drilling, maintenance, and repairs. They will test the water, inspect the well, make any necessary repairs, and then disinfect the well before you resume using the water. If you have any of the concerns detailed above, or just want to get some routine testing and maintenance done, contact us today by calling 919-291-4063 or by filling out the appointment request form at the top of the page.