Like many towns in South Carolina and across the nation, the water system in the Town of Denmark is aging. With that age comes degradation of tanks, leaking pipes and failure of other infrastructure which can lead to increased occurrence of discoloration and the perception of an unhealthy system. The fact is the Denmark water system is safe but has operated well past its design life.
Because America’s drinking water infrastructure provides a critical service, significant new investment and increased efficiencies are needed as filtration plants, pipes, and pumps age past their useful life. According to the 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, every day, nearly six billion gallons of treated drinking water are lost due to leaking pipes, with an estimated main breaks occurring each year. Nationally, it is estimated that leaky, aging pipes are wasting 14 to 18% of each day’s treated water; the amount of clean drinking water lost every day could support 15 million households.
National News articles
∨ WATER SYSTEMS ARE AGING EVERYWHERE!
By David Sedlack
Pew Trust, Spring 2019
Due to our complacency, only a serious crisis that could leave people without access to tap water is likely to free up the financial resources needed to bring water infrastructure—which in many places still includes pipes from the 1800s—into the 21st century. Absent an emergency, cash-strapped water utility managers will continue to deal with aging water systems by economizing on routine maintenance and deferring upgrades for as long as possible.
Our reluctance to invest means that we allow our water systems to deteriorate until they nearly fail and invest in them only after the public decides that the status quo is unacceptable. Our water systems’ shortcomings were brought to the public’s attention by Flint, Michigan’s, recent experience. But it doesn’t end there: Water systems are teetering on the edge of viability in numerous cities. We have seen this pattern before—and the present-day warning for us all is that the past is often prologue.