Valuing Water With Smart Pipe Choices

Each year in March, the United Nations celebrates World Water Day to focus attention on importance of having access to clean, fresh water. Fresh water is a precious resource, vital to sustaining all life and human society.

Clean Water

Credit: Shutterstock

It’s appropriate, then, that the theme of World Water Day 2021 is Valuing Water. Water’s value lies not just in the monetary cost of acquiring, storing and distributing it, but in water’s incalculable value to sustaining all life on Earth. As world population and development increases, we can no longer take for granted ready access to clean water. We must move toward water sustainability, carefully stewarding our current water supplies and reducing waste to a minimum.

One important way to steward clean-water supplies is to lower the amount of water lost through failing water mains. Much of the United States’ drinking water is delivered through 2.2 million miles of underground pipes. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that water-main breaks occur every two minutes, causing the daily loss of about six billion gallons of fresh water nationwide. That’s 15% of our 39-billion-gallon daily water usage! Water mains are failing so frequent due to their extreme age – much of our water infrastructure was installed 70-100 years ago and is now past its lifespan.

U.S. Public Water Supply Consumption chart

Credit: American Society of Civil Engineers

In recently passed legislation, Congress appropriated about $1.1 billion to support water-infrastructure improvements. However, money alone won’t conserve our water supply. An important part of the solution is replacing aged, corroded, and leaking pipes with economical alternatives including high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Plastic piping offers several advantages such as superior corrosion resistance, which improves water flow while reducing the incidence of leaks. Plastic piping also has the lowest overall failure rate, according to a recent study.

On World Water Day 2021, let’s commit to stewarding our valuable water supply by reducing water waste and leakage. Replacing old water mains with durable, cost-effective plastic alternatives will reduce breakage and save much of our billions of gallons of lost water. This will draw us closer to achieving water sustainability.