Numbers tell a dismal tale of U.S. water infrastructure

American Water's new white paper reveals some startling statistics on U.S. infrastructure.

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American Water has released a new white paper titled, The “One Water” Approach. The paper discusses the need to begin looking at water, in all its forms, from potable to stormwater and wastewater – as one commodity. Until we do, the paper contends, we will continue to waste far too much. I’ll talk more about that idea, and the paper’s conclusions, in another blog. But first, I’d like to share some amazing numbers and statistics I pulled from the paper:

  • Without renewal or replacement, water pipes in the U.S. that are classified as poor, very poor or life-elapsed will increase from 10 percent to 44 percent by 2020.
  • Restoring and expanding existing water systems will cost at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years.
  • Baltimore deals with approximately 1,000 burst pipes every year, and every day 20 percent of potable water drawn from nearby reservoirs is lost before ever making it to homes and businesses.
  • Houston’s water system suffered 11,000 leaks in summer 2011, resulting in a quarter of the city’s water being lost or unaccounted for in September and October of that year.
  • Miami’s sewer system has ruptured 65 times in the past two years, discharging more than 47 million gallons of untreated sewage into waterways and streets.
  • The average American produces 60 – 150 gallons of wastewater daily, primarily from washing dishes and clothes.
  • It is estimated that up to 10 billion gallons of raw sewage is released into our waterways every year as a result of blocked or broken pipes.
  • More than 80 percent of Americans surveyed indicated they support using recycled water for many “toilet-to-turf” uses
  • Seawater comprises 97 percent of the earth’s water.
  • Tampa Bay Water operates the largest seawater desalination in the U.S., providing up to 10 percent of that region’s total water supply.
  • The average American uses 100 gallons of drinking water per day, but only a small fraction of that is used for drinking. The rest is used for toilet flushing, bathing, cooking, landscape watering, and other tasks.
  • Approximately 7 billion gallons of treated drinking water is “lost” each day primarily due to leaks in drinking water pipelines throughout the U.S.

The full white paper can be viewed here.


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