The Revolution Transforming America's Strained Water Systems

In the first in a series of articles exploring 'infrastructure solutions for the next generation', Cynthia Barnett examines the creative ways that communities are solving the problems caused by old and overtaxed water systems.

"Across the nation, antiquated infrastructure like Seattle’s, swelling populations, and weather extremes are stressing our triplicate freshwater, stormwater, and wastewater systems like never before," says Barnett. "Industry groups such as the American Society of Civil Engineers, American Water Works Association, National Association of Water Companies, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce repeat the mantra that the nation’s water systems are some of the oldest, most overused, and most seriously failing of all America’s infrastructure—worse off than the nation’s bridges. The EPA estimates that repairing, replacing, and upgrading these aging water systems will cost between $300 billion and $1 trillion over the next two decades."

"Yet, too often, the engineers and the estimators aren’t taking into account that, rather than rebuilding waterworks in the twentieth-century tradition, an increasing number of communities are finding creative solutions that can be cheaper and better for the environment, and build resiliency to climate change," she notes.

"The water revolution reaches beyond the filtering and storage capacity of wetlands, plants, and trees to the way we perceive, use, and pay for H20. It involves seeing value in every kind of water—from irrigating with recycled water to finding energy in sewage. It sometimes eschews infrastructure altogether."

Full Story: Water Works

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