Our Nation's Water Infrastructure Is In Bad Shape

We at Dutton Plumbing are proud of the role we play bringing fresh water for drinking, bathing and other household uses safely into your homes. However, our tools and expertise are of use only if we have a fresh water supply to tap into. That may not be such a sure thing in the not-too-distant future.

The sad truth is that our nation’s water infrastructure is in terrible shape. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ “Report Card for America’s Infrastructure” gave the U.S. drinking water and wastewater systems D grades, and the ASCE’s “Failure to Act: Closing the Infrastructure Investment Gap for America’s Economic Future” states that only 30% of America’s water and wastewater infrastructure needs between 2016 and 2025 are funded, leaving an investment gap of $105 billion. This underinvestment will cost each American $3,400 a year over the next decade.

The Uni-Bell PVC Pipe Association reports 850 water main breaks a day, and the U.S. Geological Survey estimates more than 1.7 trillion gallons of treated water are lost to leaks annually, with 16% of treated water never reaching the tap.

The interesting thing is, most Americans want to do something about this. At a time when there seem to be more divisive political issues than ever before, public support is overwhelming for more infrastructure investment.

Plumbing Manufacturers International is a voluntary, not-for-profit international industry association of manufacturers of plumbing products, whose member companies produce 90% of the nation’s plumbing products and represent more than 150 brands. According to a PMI water infrastructure Google survey of 1,000 U.S. residents of all ages conducted last July, 64% of survey respondents identified drinking water safety as a concerning consequence of an aging underground water infrastructure, and 32% identified public officials failing to address water-related issues as a concern. A national poll conducted by the Value of Water Coalition in February found that 95% of Americans want public officials to invest in water infrastructure and 60% are in favor of paying larger water bills to support this investment.

Yet nothing ever seems to happen.

A second PMI Google survey queried 1,000 Americans of all ages about WaterSense and water-efficiency issues. This survey showed low awareness of the WaterSense program, with 75% of the respondents indicating being very unfamiliar or unfamiliar with the program. While 48% of respondents felt saving water was important, most survey participants were unfamiliar with WaterSense rebate and incentive programs and didn’t feel an urgent need to replace older plumbing products with more efficient ones. This survey is in line with the findings of a 2015 PMI study that found slow adoption of WaterSense toilets, showerheads and faucets, even in parts of the nation affected by drought – like us!

This discrepancy between the desire for action and lack thereof led PMI last month to commit to an advocacy effort for the safety and sustainability of America’s drinking water. As a first step, PMI introduced this position statement and infographic advocating for the restoration of the United States’ underground water infrastructure.

We are Dutton Plumbing support that effort and will do our part to spread the word about this important issue. We urge our customers and all of you reading this to do likewise, and tell political leaders of every party and persuasion to muster the courage to invest in infrastructure repairs and improvements, especially those that affect the potable water supplies that all of us need to survive.

And, call us to ask about replacing any old water-guzzling toilets, faucets and showerheads with WaterSense products that will save you money and help conserve Southern California’s increasingly scarce fresh water supplies.