The North American drinking water infrastructure network spans an estimated 1 million miles, more than four times longer than the National Highway System, and that doesn't even take wastewater pipes into account. Much of the water infrastructure in the United States will need to be replaced in the next three decades. A large portion of water pipes was installed during three periods, and they will all need to be replaced in the next 25 years. Consider the following
According to a 2012 report
- The oldest cast iron pipes laid in the late 1800s usually last 120 years;
- Pipes laid in 1920s must be replaced after 100 years;
- Pipes from the post-World War II boom wear out after 75 years.
done by the American Water Works Association, the cost estimate to replace the old pipes is approximately $1 trillion over the next 25 years. The longer our water infrastructure is out of sight and out of mind, the closer we are to a serious national situation that will require immediate and dramatic funding. The cost of water infrastructure replacement far exceeds the financial capabilities of local water utilities and requires a strong commitment from not only utilities but rate-payers and government as well.