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We’ll all be Flint Michigan someday: U.S. water infrastructure is falling apart

We’ll all be Flint Michigan someday: U.S. water infrastructure is falling apart

[ According to this Free National Research Council report, most water systems and distribution pipes will be reaching the end of their expected life spans in the next 30 years.

With nearly a million miles of utility water infrastructure, 5 million miles of private home and building infrastructure, 154,000 storage facilities, and more,  it will be hard to replace within 30 years, and the EPA estimated the cost would be over $205 billion dollars.

This is important because one of the main reasons lifespan rose above 50 years last century was clean drinking water.  Residents in Flint who drank lead-poisoned water may not only have their lifespan shortened, but their quality of life reduced as well. Being able to harvest your own rainwater and store it is one way to protect yourself. Excerpts from this 404 page document follow. They are not in order. ]

U.S. Water infrastructure is falling apart (my title)

TABLE 4-7 Material Life Expectancies

Distribution System Component Typical Life Expectancies,years
Concrete & metal storage tanks 30
Transmission pipes 35
Valves 35
Mechanical valves 15
Hydrants 40
Service Lines 30
SOURCE: EPA (2004). EPA’s Note: These expected useful lives are drawn from a variety of sources. The estimates assume that assets have been properly maintained.

The extent of water distribution pipes in the United States is estimated to be a total length of 980,000 miles (1.6 x 106 km), which is being replaced at an estimated rate of once every 200 years. Rates of repair and rehabilitation have not been estimated.

There is a large range in the type and age of the pipes that make up water distribution systems. The oldest cast iron pipes from the late 19th century are typically described as having an expected average useful lifespan of about 120 years because of the pipe wall thickness.

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